Photo by Andrew Kufahl
When I got home after doing this photo with Steve, I had one of those moments where I realize just how much goes into a shot like this. Granted, I have a long way to go, but even so, the number of decisions that get made while assembling a photo like this is pretty amazing.
Location selection is always an interesting challenge. And most times once the location has been selected, you go through the arduous chore of cleaning-up. Normally, I don't start cleaning-up until I have a good idea what my framing is going to be. The reason I figure out the rough framing is because I only want to have to clean-up what needs to be cleaned-up. Why spend time moving things that aren't even going to be in the frame? Once we had this spot selected, we moved some obvious things that didn't need to be there. Next I pulled the drawers out a little in order to create some nice leading lines into my subject, and to show the tools which are extremely important regarding the purpose of this photo. Next, there was a boat right next to the subject's leg, so we moved that as far out of the way possible, but even then I had to photoshop some of it out of the right-side of the frame. Next we had to deal with that thing in the background camera-right, next to the subject's head. It's a large black crane-type thing (presumably to lift engines). For the most part, it fit into the context of the photo, but where it didn't fit too well was it's luminosity (or lack of it). It was so black against the white wall, that it was screaming "LOOK AT ME! HEY, LOOK AT ME BACK HERE". Due to the size of that particular piece of equipment, we opted to throw a piece of plastic over it, which greyed it out enough to make it less obvious (although, I'd still like to have subdued it even more). There were a couple boxes against the wall right behind the subject's head that were a bit distracting, we moved those. Off to the camera-left side of the subject's head was a picture on the wall that, once again because it was so dark, had to be removed because of it was a distraction. The top of the toolchest camera-left was a bit bare-looking, so we grabbed a couple items and created a pleasant looking composition. And finally, to fill in a gap and also to make a more pleasant pose for our subject, we stuck that black toolbox under the subject's right arm.
I wanted the subject's pose to be triangular in nature. Accomplishing this was pretty straight-forward, and we really just needed to pull his arms away from his body a bit.
Compositionally, I tried picking a perspective that would cause all the diagonal lines to converge in a pleasant looking way. See that area right above the subject's head where the ceiling and walls all meet? That was done on purpose in order to point at the subject.
The general framing of this was a bit of a bear. I needed to get the tools into the shot, but there was too much stuff on the right and left side of the frame that I didn't want in the shot. So ultimately I chose to stand back a ways, shoot as wide as possible, and then just do a square crop. Had I stepped closer, or zoomed in, I would lose the bottom of the frame and cut off the tools. Similarly, I thought about backing up even more and zooming in, but then I would have to get lower in order to get the drawers in... but, going lower would make it so you'd barely be able to see into the drawers, and make the tools less of the image.
I kept lighting pretty simple on this. This work area had a ton of overhead lights in it. So many, that I easily shot a correctly exposed image at 1/60 f.32 200ISO. The problem just using the available light was that it was all downward light that shadowed his eyes. So, I underexposed the ambient a bit, and bounced a flash off the camera-left wall.