Location photography is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Unless you're lucky enough to have a pre-shoot site visit, you go into an unknown place and have to produce a stunning photograph out of sometimes mediocre surroundings.
A typical situation is a fat, bald MD with pebble thick glasses sitting in a drab office in an undistinguished building. That's awful I hear you say but it gets worse. You don't meet the guy beforehand as he's pushed for time so you have 15 minutes to set up 3three lights whilst he's out of the room. He walks in and says you have two minutes. You start to sweat but somehow you get the shot. Not too bad a situation but here's a true story:

Commissioned to shoot the new fridge display counters at Fortnum & Mason's, I had the luxury of an pre shoot visit. Not only were there mirrors everywhere but oh horror, the glass counters had curved top edges; even the corner one was curved up and down and side to side. That means that any lighting you use will reflect badly off the glass.
The good part is that it's supposed to be a whole store shot. The bad news is that it'll require about 14 flash heads and about 22,000 joules of light to do the job. Ok I say to the client, we've got all night to shoot it but no, we haven't! In the evening the shelves are restocked then the cleaners arrive. All are gone by 11pm. Plenty of time I say, but no such luck. We can't get access until 4am and have to do three shots and be out by 9am when the shop opens. It's tight but it's possible.
Then the client says that the job has to be shot this Friday night and be delivered to Heathrow by 1pm Saturday to make the last Fedex flight to Oslo in time to be printed on Monday morning for a magazine cover. It's a 'no fail' situation.
So no pressure then!

So in I go at 4am with 2 assistants and spend the first 2 minutes swearing hard at myself for taking on the job. Luckily I had scouted out the camera position and some of the lighting positions beforehand. Under my close direction the assistants set up the lights. Good, there's not many reflections.
I set up the Sinar 4x5 inch camera (see one
here) and assess the exposure using a combination of a Sinar metering back probe and a handheld light meter.
I calculate it a 1/8 second at f16.6 and shoot a black and white Polaroid using a special holder for the camera back. Good, only a third of a stop out.
'How did you do that?' asks the new assistant obviously greatly impressed with my metering of the scene. 'It's the hand of the master' I say, hoping he wouldn't see my hands trembling!
Six sheets of film quickly shot and move the camera. It's now 6.45 and 2 shots to go..... we were off the floor at 9.01am and heading for Joe's Basement with a bunch of darkslides of sheet film. Joe's ran a 24 hour E6 service. Offload the darkslides and test run 3 sheets on the E6 transparency processor. Then out for a big full English breakfast whilst the process was run. Back at Joe's to view the perfect test sheets and say 'Ok run the rest and the client will pick them up at 12 noon as I'm home to bed!'
Panic over, pay the freelance assistants and sleep.
The client was impressed and frankly so was I.

I don't think there are any interiors here where I haven't used lighting. Even the ones that don't look lit are in fact lit. An example is the office building to the right. I lit the entire inside and, when the exterior lighting was right, fired the interior flash by radio control.
In photography nothing is quite as it seems.
Stacks Image 8
Scottish stone
Scottish stone
Scottish stone

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