I had an interesting call the other day from the Mayor’s Office for an assignment. All of our Mayors that pass away have their portrait photograph hung on the wall at Council HQ along the 2nd Floor corridor. This is all well and fine you may say, however, the public never get to see them. So my assignment was to photograph the photographs individually to put onto the Councils website. Simple? Well no Im afraid not. Im not going to bore you with science here but all of the photographs are behind glass and as you know thats reflective. I had to design a way to photograph these while they are in situ on the walls ranging from waist height, to some 12 feet up in the air, in shadows, opposite windows etc. Well you can see where this is going. Of course the first portrait was the oldest and dullest lit in the lightest part of the corridor, what a nightmare. It took me one hour just to get this one right.
I had to think on my feet how to get through these without being there a week later still doing the same job. I thought about my software arsenal back at home on my iMac. Then it struck me. Light the portrait shade out the reflection, move my reflection out of the shot and take the image. This of course looked awful on the back of the camera, as the images were skewed different ways by about 30 degrees. My saving grace was Photoshop – yes I can hear the groans but let me explain. In the version I have is something called Perspective Cropping. What this allows you to do is take and image from side on and it will then flip and square the image so it looks like it was taken head on. No way!
So I duly shot away using this method finally making progress through the 80 or so portraits hung on the wall. The real proof was back in the Digital Darkroom as to whether this had worked. What really struck me while doing these were the names of some of the Ex-Mayors. Names that I remember being companies, streets that are named after them etc. Such a fascinating amount of local history all just hung there, which just gets walked past by people that work there.
So whats the big deal with blogging this then? Well! One of the images that I shot, remember these are going back over the last 120 years, the Mayor’s died before his official portrait was taken. Now imagine having to produce that photograph in the darkroom decades ago, without all the digital bells and whistles we have today. I have to say I couldnt tell you which one it was and Ive gone through them all individually ready to be presented to the Council on disc.
So does this make me a fraud at what I have done? Or did I just use the modern Digital Darkroom to achieve what was required?
One thing that did strike me, I bet the people looking back at me would have been blown away by what we take for granted. The picture Ive posted up is one that I took using the method outlined here, can you tell it was taken at a 30 degree angle and post processed to look like it was taken square on?