My friend, and one of my favorite "lifestyle" models, Ann. In Book People Bookstore.
Contrary to the idea that all professional photographers are competing against each other constantly, this job came to me as a referral from a photographer who was booked up on an architectural project and trying to make hay while the sun shown. He nicely recommended me to his client of many years. It was a shelter magazine and they were doing an article on the ethics and results of shopping locally, instead of sending all of you money out of your community by spending it at national chains.
The editor had lived in Austin and remembered one of the great remaining independent bookstores in the country, Book People. Three stories of great book inventory right in the heart of Austin's downtown. Could I find a model, go there and shoot some variations and send them some selections?
Their directions were clear and concise. We quickly came to a contractual agreement and I sent a letter of agreement to them with all of our terms and a description of the project. Business part done. Now it was time to get down to business. And I made a mistake. I should have shot this with conventional gear and gotten down the road. But I was in the middle of "micro 4:3rds fever" and I grabbed an old legacy Olympus lens and an adapter ring and pressed my EP2 into service.
Ann and I did a bunch of shots around the store. We followed the brief. But the light in the store was pretty low and, not wanting to go past ISO 800 on a magazine job that might require the images to be used as a double-truck (two page) spread I shot a lot of stuff wide open and at slow shutter speeds.
The camera was fine. A bit noisy maybe, but nothing I couldn't handle with some judicious noise reduction in post production.....It was the lens that was the Achille's Heel.
I should have spent more time testing that particular vintage lens. I'd shot some stuff outdoors and it looked great at f5.6 and f4.0 but down at f1.5 and f2 it was a whole other story. But not one that was readily apparent on the camera's LCD. When I got the images back to the studio I blew them up on my cinema monitor and looked closely. The lens just didn't have the bite it needed. In it's defense, at f1.5, not many do. As to my own defense, hubris comes before the fall. I thought I could pull off more than I could.
I called Ann back and she graciously agreed to shoot again. I grabbed a full frame camera and a well corrected lens and shot the whole thing over again. This time I shot at f4 and smaller most of the time. And I carefully blew up test frames as big as they would go on the LCD screen to try and make sure that I was getting critically sharp stuff. I came back and edited through the second take and sent along 30 different files.
This was all invisible to the client. I met their deadline and sent the images they needed. Fortunately the quality control came from my end first. And yet, I don't feel like I made the worst of decisions. It's good to try new stuff and push envelopes and boundaries. The first stuff I shot had a great feel to it on one level. But it was too far into devolution to pass the publication test. If I posted it here I'll bet few could see the differences between the files. But my QC department can be tough. Especially when the client comes from a peer recommendation.
Why am I sharing all this with you? I don't know. I guess I'm going against basic marketing by admitting that we're all only human and making mistakes is part of the deal. I don't always follow the standard play book. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But I know one thing: If you're going to screw around with "alternative gear/processes" leave in enough time buffer to do it over again.......
Rainy day here. Rainy week. Cancelled shoot. More blogs.