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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.

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