Week16 – Team Photo


16 – 22 April ’11

The Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

The people of Ashhurst and the Pohangina Valley are served by a volunteer fire brigade.  These men, and at the  moment they are all men,  stand ready turn out at any hour of the day or night.  They  attend emergencies from medical crisis to car accidents, house fires to wind damaged power lines.  They receive no payment , all have other jobs and they give up their time for the good of our community.  My lovely man has been a member of the AVFB for sixteen  years.  He currently holds the rank of Senior Station Officer.

Sporadically over the years the Brigade has had a ‘team photo’ taken to hang on the social room wall.  An inspection revealed that there had not been a photo taken to add to the collection for almost eight years.  So someone put up their hand and volunteered to give it a go…

The Shoot

Nervous.  I woke up at 4.45am on Monday,  started going over the shoot in my head and couldn’t get back to sleep.  My biggest worry was the lighting.  I’d wanted to do this shoot in daylight as I have no external lighting gear what-so-ever.  Sadly we just did not manage to make a date to get it done during the summer months, so I was stuck working with the flouro lights in the appliance bay.  My plan – use my nifty fifty for max clarity and aperture, and hope for the best.  Not really much of a plan.

I did carry out extensive study on group shots, posing and crowd control.  By the time Monday evening rolled around I at least was sure I knew what I was doing in that regard.  The most important point that I read was ‘pretend like you know what you’re doing’.   The theory is that if you act like a professional people will listen to you.  I have to say that this worked.  And having a solid posing plan in place, and written down on paper , put my mind at ease and meant I was able to relax.   Also, arriving in plenty of time so I had may camera, tripod, the truck and the chairs all in place when the guys turned up meant everything went smoothly for the actual shot.

Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

Exposure 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture f/1.8
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 250

Thanks to my contacts at dPS  and to Fro Knows I was able to get the guys organised and nicely posed with out any stress.  And thanks to some new software and my new ability to shoot and process RAW files I’ve been able to rescue this shot from darkness, noise and a lack of clarity.  I also used the magic that is Photoshop to remove some of the more distracting elements from the background.

I wanted to take a more relaxed shot, so I took inspiration from the earliest Brigade photo that’s on the wall in the station.  It was taken circa 1962, so is about 50yrs old.

Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

Honours Evening -Circa 1962

 I love the casual and easy-going nature of this photo.

So I asked the old men to crouch, kneel and sit on the cold concrete.  They weren’t all that thrilled with the idea, but we got there in the end.  See – take control, expect compliance and it will happen  😀

And.... relax

I like this picture a whole lot.  I’ve known most of these guys for years, and I think this shot captures who they are, their comraderie much better than the formal one above.  It was shot with the exact same camera settings as the previous pose.  Unfortunately it came out very soft around the edges, I’ve since learned this is due to the nature of my lens at max aperture.  But with some major tweeking it’s come out OK.

In all what I’ve learned from this whole experience is that preparation is key. And I that NEED to get myself some off camera lighting, and learn how to use it.

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