This is the first post in an ongoing behind-the-image series.
This image was an interesting solution to a last-minute catalog problem. I'm not a studio photographer and I wouldn't consider this a full-blown studio shot. It did combine ambient and flash light sources and took several hours to set up. Shooting time was two or three minutes; it actually took longer to break the set down.
The background was a plot of an engineering diagram of the Epic. We had some scaling issues with the first test plot, so while the graphics department printed out a new copy we took the one we had out to the warehouse. In the car on the way down to the job I'd hoped I could shoot from a raised gantry that rings the warehouse. A quick scan of the building made it obvious there was one section adjacent to a skylight. This would give me my ambient fill.
The gantry railing was about eighteen feet off the ground. I could shoot almost straight down into a nice pool of soft light on the concrete floor. Setting up a tripod would have been awkward so I rigged a camera platform to the end of a magic arm and clamped the arm to the railing. I rigged a second magic arm between the railing and the first arm to increase stability.
At that distance I was prepared to use either a 50 mm lens on my 1D MK IV with its 1.3 x crop or a 100 mm macro on the full-frame sensor of the 5D MK II. I tried the 100/5D MKII combo first and it gave me an almost perfect crop of the engineering drawing, so we were in business. The next task was to find a graphically pleasing arrangement of the frame and components. This took about forty five minutes of experimentation.
My main light was a 39" Deep Rotalux softbox powered by channel A of my Elinchrom Quadra strobe system. It was boomed at the five o'clock position, about three feet off the ground and angled at 45 degrees to the surface. It provided a little more directional light to the frame with a very soft diffuse shadow. Channel B fired a second Quadra head at 11 o'clock, five feet above the floor to reduce fall off on the left side of the background. Both lights were fired wirelessly from the camera's hot shoe with a Skyport.
When the properly scaled plot arrived we marked the position of the various elements on the first one with a sharpie, laid the new one down and replaced the parts using the original as a guide.
With the set complete I used mirror lockup and a remote switch to trigger the camera. Exposure was a 30th of a second at f 7.1, ISO 250. The Quadras were firing at about 2/3 power. I used liveview and my indispensable Zacuto Z-Finder Loupe at 10x to get critical focus before leaving liveview to fire the shutter. I shot two or three frames, rechecked focus and repeated. I also shot a few frames at f8.0.
The shot required very little post production. There were two small objects used to prop the frame and cranks and hints of them had to be cloned out in Photoshop. The finished shot was uploaded to my online image repository that evening and it was dropped into the catalog the next day. Client happy; mission accomplished.