On Assignment: Scout and a Shoot Pt. 1

Gonna do something a little different today.

If at all possible, before a job I try to get to the location a day or two in advance and do a quick scout. This helps me to think a little in the interim and to anticipate any problems I might have during the shoot. It also helps me to decide what gear to bring — i.e., not to overpack.

So let's do a quick scout together. In the next post, we'll walk through the shoot itself.

The location is the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, AKA the MCE. Longtime readers will recognize this place from a pair of other OA posts.

But this time we'll have no creepy/cool Stanley Kubrick hallway and lasers. Nor will we even have a conference room and whiteboard.

Nope. Here is our studio for the day, a disused white office room with a window that overlooks a fluorescent-lit hallway:

There you go.

The good news:

• The room is white.
• The room has a (white) ceiling, of decent height.
• It's (mostly) empty.

The bad news:

• It's mostly empty.
• Not a lot of personality
• We have to do a couple different shoots here.
• We'll be working quickly to swap up between shoots

But this is not the only vantage point in the room. Let's walk to the far corner and have a look back this way:

That's not too bad. In fact, that's seamless white paper that I won't have to cart in. So that's good.

Also, the walls and ceiling being white, they won't influence my flash. Whatever I shoot into them — or gel into them — I'll get bounced back faithfully. Actually, I'll take this room, compared to many others.

Let's pop out and take a look at that white hallway out the window:

Okay then. Here it is naked, not even color-balanced yet. This is a daylight-balanced photo showing it as it really is under those fluorescents. Looks like a giant harvest gold-green kitchen from the '70s in this light. Hmm.

So there you go. Given the quick change, and the fact that I will have no assistant, I am going to choose to do this with speedlights. I'll bring a few, some stands, a few diffused umbrellas, odds and ends and a C-stand or two.

Cameras? Let's call it a Nikon D3 with a 105mm portrait lens and a 35/2, a Fuji X100s and a coupla PocketWizard PlusX remotes. Add some gels to the mix and that should do us.

Let the room percolate in your mind, and I'll see you in a couple of days when we come back to shoot it.

Next: How We Shot It


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