A big challenge in any creative profession is staying ‘fresh’ in your approach to your work, which as anybody who photographs shoes for a living can attest, can be problematic after a spell. For Chris Henderson, a UK-based corporate/industrial photographer with a specialty in photographing unusual, and often large-scale subjects in a variety of environments, maintaining a creative edge has been a priority over the course of his 30-year career.
Henderson takes lighting seriously, be it natural ambient lighting with a reflector or two, or photographs in which he has to light the entire scene.
A recent project that involved photographing a massive mining truck in real-world surroundings proved to be a perfect test bed for a lighting painting scenario he had been working out in his head for some time. Just as he lights each facet of a product in a studio set precisely, Henderson’s plan was to light each of the contrasting shapes and forms of the massive mining truck independently, batch process them for consistency, and merge the best portions of the resulting images together post-capture in Photoshop. But first he had to photograph the individual components, and to do that he turned to his PocketWizard remote triggering system
Henderson’s hand-held lighting system consisted of an Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX Hybrid monopack synced to a PocketWizard Flex TT5 Transceiver, both of which were mounted on the end of a telescopic boom pole. The camera,which was mounted on a sandbag-stabilized heavy-duty tripod, was triggered manually by Henderson (seen holding the light in the inset pictures) using a hand-held PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver from each lighting position to a PocketWizard Plus III wireless trigger, which was attached to the camera via remote camera cable. When the camera was triggered, the shoe-mounted PocketWizard Flex TT5 triggered the Elinchom flash head, which was synced to another PocketWizard Flex TT5. Each exposure was PocketWizard controlled from start to finish.
The PocketWizard side of the story doesn’t stop there. Chris wanted to maintain control over the brightness levels of the surrounding skies and foreground, which was limited by the relatively slow 1/200th-second top sync speed of his Canon EOS 5D Mark III. To get around this limitation, Henderson took advantage of the HyperSync function of his PocketWizard trigger system, which enabled him to dramatically darken the skies by syncing his camera to his flash at an effective 1/1000th-second at f/8.
The final image is composed of portions of about 45 individual exposures that were sampled, tweaked, and merged together into a single powerful image. By setting the camera remotely and securely, and methodically lighting each portion of the vehicle to emphasize the shapes, scale, and textures of its massive surfaces, Chris was able to create an unearthly iconic image in a real-world setting. What’s also notable is that despite the size, logistics, and scale of the truck and the fact it was photographed in a field of mud and far beyond reasonable reach of an AC outlet, Henderson’s PocketWizard remote triggering system enabled him to capture the image single-handedly.
“I have used other radio triggers… and had nothing but problems, the main ones being poor range, misfires, and electrical noise interference when working in… large industrial complexes”. Since switching to PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers, they’ve become his ‘go-to’ remote triggering system. “They have proven to be robust, reliable, and each time I use them I am confident they will perform faultlessly.”
PocketWizard wireless technologies have allowed Chris Henderson to shoot in ways previously impossible. In his own words, PocketWizard radio triggers have added an extra creative string to his bow and changed the way he goes about creating photographic images.
To see more of Chris Henderson’s work visit his website.
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