Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Beer to Photography... and Back Again

Speight's Brewery

I subscribe to the theory that beer was the catalyst for human civilisation and thus photography.  No kidding.  Long before anyone thought to bake bread from wheat, people were probably eating an accidentally fermented porridge of barley grains.  The fermentation created a protein profile that was more nutritious and it also left the consumer feeling wonderfully refreshed.  The demand for this porridge - and later the beverage - led to the rise of agriculture.  Bread was invented later as a way to make the raw ingredients store better.  The need to keep tally of the stores led to the development of written language, and it's a smooth ride all the way from there to the printing press, computers and the Canon 5D Mark II.

Anyway, this week I got to do one of my bucket list shoots: Speight's Brewery. Established in 1876, Speight's is a Dunedin institution. So much so that its heritage tour is one of Dunedin's most popular visitor attractions. That's either something to do with the wonderfully preserved brewing gear, or the tasting session at the end.


Either way, I had a blast. It was mainly a job of balancing ambient window light with flash, bouncing off light coloured walls to get a large apparent light source to shine off the beautiful copper brew kettles etc. If this were a full advertising or promotional commission, I'd probably take the time to set up big white scrims and bounce surfaces and really sculpt things, as well as pushing just a little more light up into the ceiling.


As it was, there was so much to get through that this was nearly a run-and-gun operation. The hero of the whole shoot was my new Nasty Clamps. The time they save is amazing. No more fiddling around with light stands. Not nearly so much anyway, just whack a flash on and clamp it to a door, bench, brewer - whatever's handy.

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Nasty Clamp in actionSo here's a Nasty Clamp in action.  Elegant, eh?

With so much to see, I'm going back to Speight's for another shoot. There's lots left to get through, like the board room, the fermentation tanks, and maybe, just maybe, the tasting lounge.

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