Epic. A word I am the first to admit is overused. When I here someone say 'Man, that was epic' I'm left thinking, was it? Was it really? Was it really a Herculean act, or a long poem or heroic in any way?
Well this time I feel it was, for me anyway. I'm not talking about the end result (which was pretty awesome if I do say so myself), I'm talking about the journey of getting this shot.
Let me set the scene. A good friend's milestone birthday was coming up and his wife had this amazing idea to get a portrait of their children taken, printed and hung on the wall to surprise him. I was thinking 'yeah cool, that sounds like a great idea, how big are you thinking?' Her response, 'pretty big, I was thinking the entrance stairway so that it's the first thing you see when you walk in the door'.
Now this wall is pretty big a majestic, not just that but you will also be walking past the print every time you come into the house or pass from bedroom to kitchen/lounge.
The challenge here is detail. The print would need detail and lots of it. I'm not talking about a 10 foot viewing distance, I'm talking 1 foot. We measured the size that would look good in that space out to 1.5 metres in height and I don't shoot medium format!!!
Now for the picture. She loves the long exposure landscape/seascapes I produce and wanted a seascape with the kids in it taken at a particular local spot on the Central Coast. It would need to be first thing in the morning, actually it was closer to last thing at night to be honest, and met up at the beach before the sun had even thought about poking it's head above the horizon. Tripod set up, a few test shots to nail the composition then it was time for the kids to perform. I'll take my hat off to them, 5am, pretty cold, can't see a thing (apart from torch light) and asking them to sit on a rock above the ocean and stay perfectly still for a bunch long exposure shots.
Now it was clear that I would never do this print justice with a single shot — at the time I was shooting a Nikon D7100 and the Sigma 10–20mm was my go to landscape photography lens — so it would be a massive vertical panoramic stitch. To get the resolution I would need I ended up taking 20 shots with plenty of overlap to allow for the distortion of the rocks up close (30 second exposure each and using an ND 4 filter) and the kids...amazing — though getting fidgety by the end. At that time of the morning the light changes so quickly that you don't get a second run through so this was it.
Ice cream for the kids to say thanks then back home and on the computer. I would hazard a guess of around 15 hours retouching to get all the joins perfect — yes, Photoshop does a good job but this needed to be perfect — cleaning the rocks up from the bit of rubbish and the occasional ciggie butt. Im sure some of these things were near on life size and know they would've been horrible in the final print.
Once finished I did a few in situ mockups so we could get the colours perfect and then sent the file off for print. By now the timing was getting close, I didn't hear from the printer...phone calls, emails...no response. After a week I finally got hold of him to find out he was out of stock and couldn't do it for me. Hmm, not amused but I won't name names here. After furiously calling around I came across the guys at Created for Life in Erina and they agreed to help out with my now crazy deadline.
File sent, canvas printed stretched and mounted, picked up from the factory (when they weren't even open) and dropped off (think Guy Richie jump cut style here :) ).
The morning of the reveal (that would be the next morning): I went out fishing with my mate the next morning and the plan was to have breaky at his place afterwards. We finished up, went back and there was the print hung up in all it's glory in the hallway.
The result was amazing, the detail was worth every second of work, Mr and Mrs were over the moon with the result and now have a one of a kind seascape/portrait at one of the most iconic rocks at Avoca. In fact they love it so much the pic came down and the wall got painted into a feature wall to show the print off even more.
You'll have to excuse the pic here...we had just got back from fishing after all!!!