Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Painted Picture

In commercial photography it is the duty of the photographer to not only provide the client with images that promote but also transform the product into something that captures the attention of the customer. Recently I was given the opportunity to work with Login, Inc. - a provider of Business Voice, Internet and Colocation services in Tucson Arizona. They operate three Data Centers located in Arizona and Colorado - fascinating places only techies can truly appreciate.

Data Centers typically contain racks and racks of expensive, high tech computers and equipment in windowless, secure, cold rooms lit by blinding florescent ceiling lamps and encased in the cacophony of sound from power generators and cooling fans - isolated from the torturous, dirty world outside. Matt J. Ramsey, the Co-founder and CEO of Login, being the astute and artistically sophisticated gentleman that he is - had admired my long exposure astronomical work and knew that such techniques could be used to document his data center for promotional purposes. My job was to make this sterile, self-contained world somehow look beautiful and inviting. I happily accepted the challenge.

Now I had done this sort of thing before - in the darkened studio and out in the desert at night - using shielded flashlights with colored gels to "paint" the scenes to my liking. This is a slow and painful process, as you must determine - empirically - the duration and intensity of the light laid down on the subject. Trial and Error - hour after hour of experimentation for a payoff of just one decently painted and properly exposed image.
This picture is the result of a single 12 minute long exposure made out in Saguaro National Monument West one night in October of 2003. I used 5 different mini-maglights with shields and colored gels to create the "painted desert" effect. (With apologies to my idol - William Lesch)
For the Data Center images, with the florescent lights turned off, I used the power and signal LEDs native to the equipment in the racks as the primary light source. I gauged my exposures as to allow these lights to provide most of the ambient illumination. For those areas that remained dark (or darker than I thought appropriate) I dropped back to my light painting experience at night in the desert and used gelled flashlights to add some artistic nuance and color to the scene. Exposures were typically 60 seconds at F/4.5 and ISO 400. Below are some of the more colorful results.
A special thanks goes out to "Heather" - the model in the one picture with a person in it. She expertly stood absolutely still for over a minute while the camera shutter was open and I painted her with a flashlight. Oh - and for those of you that are certain to ask - Yes - I was in frame in every single shot here. Why am I not visible then? I never stood in one place long enough to register "on film":-)

1 comment:

Jim said...

Wow - outstanding images, Dave. I especially like the one with the person as it gives it life beyond the colors.