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Life Before Photoshop: Apache Oil Annual Report.

Look ma, no Photoshop

Look ma, no Photoshop

In the first part of my career, I shot a lot of oi and gas related photos, and the one that always made me shudder was the oil rig. If I had a dollar for every rig I’ve shot over the course of my forty-five years, your truly would be writing this while looking out at the incredible view from my house on my private Island somewhere in the Caribbean.

The only thing that kept me sane was the challenge of always shooting a particular subject that I hadn’t shot before.  As I tell my online students with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet is what Marcel Proust once said, “The only true voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. This has always been one of my mantras, and I adhere to it every time I go out shooting.

I was asked by the design firm working on Apache’s Annual Report to go to Louisiana and take a picture of an oil rig that was sitting in one of the bayous that inundate the state. My assistant and I packed up the gear, and everything else I could imagine that might be of some creative value: A xenon light and fog machine were put in the back of the Suburban along with various power packs, umbrellas, and soft boxes that I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t have to use.

As we approached the company office, we went over a small bridge and I immediately stopped, for there rising out of the swamp was an oil rig sitting on the horizon. Could that possible be the one, I hoped.

We followed our directions ( way before Google Maps) and pulled up to their office. I went in and was taken back to the small conference room that looked out to a small boat that was moored next to a dock. After meeting our contact, I asked what the boat was for. He said that they used it as a short cut to go to one of their rigs. I asked him if it could be the one we saw coming over the bridge a couple miles away. He said let’s find out and we jumped in the boat and headed to the rig.

Sure enough it was the same rig. We stopped so I could take a reading. I pulled out my Sunpath chart as well as my Morin 2000 Hand Bearing Compass. As luck would have it, the sun would come up directly behind the rig the next morning. I arrange for two boats to head to the small bridge prior to sunrise. One for the worker, and one for me to be in. Right before the sun came up we laid down some fog and waited for it to settle. I had the man take my Zenon light and act like he was looking for something. I wanted to create some visual interest while the subject was actually the oil rig off in the distance, and I knew that the fog would make the beam stand out.

As it turns out, it’s one of my favorite industrial shots, and it was completely done in the camera with absolutely no post-processing done to it.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage. In April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to the coastal cities of North and Central Viet Nam. You’ll see and take pictures of subject matter you would only see in magazines like National Geographic.

Keep those photos and questions coming into:AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I”l send you a video critique.


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