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This assignment was located in a high speed computer room at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA. In commercial and editorial photography, it is rare that you have the luxury of shooting in beautiful and interesting settings. This particular room was bright but very stark and gray. The working conditions were somewhat difficult due to the cold temperatures and high noise levels produced by the massive air conditioning units being used to cool the computer system. A heavy jacket and ear protection were necessary.
When lighting a large set such as this one, each section has to be lit independently in layers. I employed a mix of ten (10) separate monoblocs and speedlights to achieve the look that I had envisioned. The scientists that you will often encounter in the research laboratory environment are usually extremely busy and their time very valuable. I almost always use my mannequin head stand-in (fondly named Buster) to set my lighting until I am dialed in and will then call for the scientist(s) for the actual shots.
Here is the light by light narrative that demonstrates how the shot was created.
Note: One of the most frustrating challenges that I have encountered consistently in the laboratory environments has been that there is an over concentration of electronics which will often interfere with the communication of my radio triggers.
Canon 1Ds mkIII, 16-35mm f/2.8L, 1/160 sec @ f/16, ISO100.
(4) Alien Bee 1600’s, (2) Photogenic Powerlight 600’s, (3) Quantaray QDC 900WA’s, (1) Sunpak 622 – tripped via Quantum radio and optical slaves.