Preperation is Never Overkill

I had a shoot yesterday which was scheduled as a portrait and a shot of the computers he has installed. Think on that for a bit. Develop your idea of what this will look like, perhaps a nice environmental shot of the prof with the room of machines behind him.

So as I was unpacking the rolling case with five remotes, flashes and cables, the long bag with supports, a bag with lenses ranging from 12 to 200mm, two camera bodies - my new D3 and a D200, I though to myself, "Is this too much?"

Then I discovered I was photographing a physics professor who has opened up the long closed astronomical observatory. Dark blue domed ceiling, dark blue telescope, small room (this is West Chester, not the McDonald Observatory at UT), low ceiling, prof in casual, pre-term clothes.

My mental check list went like this: this will be the first moment where the full frame of the D3 will be very useful, the 70-200 is still too much lens it will stay in the bag, I need to put a back light on the telescope to separate it from the ceiling but have to hide the source and support, I need to include the room, a single computer (and computers are no longer BIG), and we need to crack the dome open to give the impression that the observatory is in use again.

Hiding the lights and getting enough room to place the main light and umbrella were the biggest challenge. Thankfully I am using Nikon SBs and not DukeNukeUms, one because there were stairs between the parking lot and the observatory, two because I would have had to pile on the ND filters to drop the power down low enough, three because the space was rather limited. I wavered about dropping a light onto the face of the computer, but I liked how it is still readable as an object in silhouette as opposed to drawing your eye away from the subject with a spot of light.

I am very glad I pulled out the moderate lighting kit. There are plenty of assignments that don't require much more than available light with a bit of fill, but I listened to my little voice (for once) and came prepared.