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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Next Photography Class...

...will be for the Triton College Continuing Ed Dept. Triton is in the west Chicago suburb of River Grove, IL.
It will be at their Riverside/Brookflied high school(home of the Barking Bulldogs) satellite site in Riverside, IL. Register here. Course #PHGE42030. It is on Tuesdays begining August 28, 2012. It will be a rather basic class for those just getting into digital photography. It will begin with photography fundamentals and move on from there. Seperately from the class, I think it will be fun to schedule a photo meet-up at a nearby nature preserve. We would do this some weekend, late afternoon until sunset. Seats are filling up-register now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My 20' x 30' Photo Mural

About this time last year, I was commissioned to create an image of the Chicago skyline for Rush University Medical Center. But this would not be just a little ol' snapshot. It was to be a 20' x 30' photo mural printed on aluminum and laminated. It was for the then under construction Brennan Pavilion. The Pavilion would serve as the new front door of the campus of Rush University Medical Center.

Adjacent to the Pavilion, the new Tower building was also under construction. The Tower is a spectacular addition to the Chicago skyline. You can read an architectural critique of the Tower by Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune here. According to the Rush website, "It is the largest new construction health care project in the world to be LEED Gold certified."  It also was just named one of the Most Innovative, Inspiring Infrastructure Projects in the World by KPMG. For more info on the Tower, go here.

The mural would be a permanent installation so the level of detail and resolution had to be high. When photographers shoot for short term installations such as highway billboards, image resolution can be quite small because drivers only see them for a few seconds when speeding by.

But this permanent installation would be different. So I decided to use the Gigapan system to achieve a very high resolution digital file. I brought a few proof-of-concept concepts before the Tower art consultant team(people with clipboards).
Time was now getting very tight as the Tower was nearing completion. I presented a black and white-version.

Thats it! We had a winning test composition.

It was now late summer. A Chicago season that tends to have bad light and lots of haze. With my deadline fast approaching, I chose an afternoon with surprisingly great light, and began to shoot the image. I shot 63 images in a grid pattern to achieve this high resolution mural. I used the Nikon D700 with a telephoto lens. Next I assembled these images into a seamless, single composite with a lot of computer horsepower. Then I converted the file to b & w. I gave the image a nice warm tone. I inspected this final file with a fine tooth comb for any blending issues. After all, reprinting this image at 20' x 30' would incur great cost-it had to be PERFECT. With terror on the inside, I submitted the final image to the Tower art consultants-and it was approved!

Here is a promotional video about the project.

My Nikon D800E arrived...

several weeks ago. Yes, it is a great machine. But just like any tool-it is of course how you use it that makes all the difference.

I have already shot several jobs with it. Portraits, brochures and Grin & Grips. I have also gone on a couple landscape photo expeditions with it and I have been having a blast. In mid June, I ventured up to MN(from Chicago) and spent some time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area(BWCA). I even took the D800E in (on?) a sea kayak on a couple small BWCA lakes. No camera aqua bag/no housing...just a bit of faith in my kayaking skills. Anyone who has ever canoed/kayaked knows that water droplets always happen. But the Nikon D800E is weather sealed quite well, so there were no water issues. It should be able to handle a good rain shower-in fact.  
Purchase here
Some readers may be wondering if my copy has the dreaded "left focus" issue that has been posted about in some photo forums, such as DPReview. Nope-not my D800E. Focus is great. All over. Right side and left side showed no trouble when tested with various Nikon pro lenses. Here is one of my first D800E images. I shot it at Wolf Road Prairie, one of my favorite local nature spots.