Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Silk purses from sow's ears

Sometimes you expect something quite different from what you get when working as a photographer.

Sometimes the client will only allow me (because of security reasons perhaps), a limited time on the premises or maybe I'll only be allowed to photograph an office complex from the inside before it gets finished and the workers move in.

This was the case last April went I drove for one and a half hours to photograph a new office complex. We had been trying for a long time to get permission and finally it had arrived. I was to photograph the new work areas and was told that everything was "more or less ready" and that there was only a few hours to complete the job.

The building looked magnificent from the outside but unfortunately I couldn't photograph it because it was raining very heavily.

No sign of the rain stopping

I met with the architect and went to the building with him. The lifts didn't work so I should have realised that maybe all was not going to be well. I asked him which offices were finished and had our lighting systems installed. He hesitated.

"Well which ones are nearly finished" I asked.

"Maybe on the third floor" He replied.

We tried that particular floor and it was like a building site. There were holes, rubble, boxes and tape everywhere.

The architect made a quick telephone call to the construction foreman and asked where we might find a finished office space.

The sixth floor......................... perhaps.

So up to the sixth floor it was. Me, The architect, a Hasselblad camera case, my rucksack with EOS gear and two tripods. Thank goodness I don't use extra lighting.

I looked around on the sixth floor but and was at first disillusioned with what I saw. Holes everywhere , floor tiles missing and generally lots of rubbish consistent with this being a building site.

Leaving my gear (and the architect) behind, I set off alone to find somewhere that may be usable. I certainly wasn't going to admit defeat and go back to the office empty handed. Finally. One floor above I found a place where the mess wasn't too bad. I took a couple of reference pictures with my mobile phone.

At least the lights were working

For the next hour or so, we tidied up. I put floor panels back, wiped dust off wooden surfaces, swept the carpet and generally did as much as I could so that there wouldn't be too much to do afterwards in Photoshop.

Before and after the clean up (and Photoshop)

All the before images taken with a Samsung Galaxy

A similar problem occurred earlier this month when I was taking pictures in the french part of Switzerland. The company I work for had delivered lots of lights to the Beaulieu Halls in Lausanne. Again this was a work in progress but as I generally only go to that part of the World about once a year, I don't like to go back empty handed so I look at all possibilities.

Our guide (one of the workmen) told me that there were lots of lights installed in the children's area downstairs.

"it's a massive hall with lots of inflatable castles for the children to play on" he said.

"How many is "lots?" I asked"
"About twenty-five or so" he replied.

"And the lights are all working?" I countered.

"Yes" he replied. "Everything is working"

Sounded great. A massive hall, lighting that worked and time to work with because it was our last job of the day.


Except that NONE of the bouncy castles were inflated.

Going to be one of those jobs

After an initial disappointment I decided to work with what I had. The deflated castles, would, I decided add a splash of colour to the images.

Here I tried to fill some of the frame
with colour

More colour and a centre of interest
for the picture

So despite my initial misgivings, all it normally takes is a quick pause for thought plus (sometimes) some cleaning up and there you have it. A usable image.

Thanks for reading.


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