May 2, 2011

How I Spend My Days

I used to work as an engineer for Icon Health and Fitness, the world's largest producer of fitness equipment. I started as an electronics quality engineer for the commercial line of equipment, FreeMotion. 

That was eye opening! It's amazing what goes into making machines like this. My job was to ensure that the electronic components we received from other manufacturers to use in our equipment was built the way we told them to build it, and if the inspectors found problems I tracked down the problem and figured out if it was the designers' fault or the manufacturers' fault. Kinda fun.

Later, I moved to the Customer Care department to continue doing the same sort of thing, but for both mechanical and electronic parts. This job is what lead me to traveling all over the world to train others and also track down particularly difficult or strange problems. I made lots of friends along the way, and made lots of pictures, too. (I've talked with other guys who travel for their work, and they are picky about which hotels they choose because of the cable channels available or the in house restaurant; I'll never understand why they are in the hotel at all when there's a whole other world to see on the other side of the remote control...)

Well, I loved that job; and I quit in December.

Now I'm only a full time photographer. And for the last few weeks I have been working for Icon again, as a contractor, making pictures for their product boxes and advertising. This has been a great experience, and I have learned volumes working with some really imaginative designers and talented models and trainers. Still, shooting the same set with the same model all day in similar poses with slightly different equipment ("No, no, Levi, this one is different. The last product was a 2 pound ankle weight; this one is 2.5 pounds.") can get a little boring.

Fortunately, we have been cranking through the images quickly enough that we have still had time in between for a few fun pictures now and again. Like this one of T.

Canon 5D MkII, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 135mm, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

We had just finished making all the pictures for the boxes and had a few minutes left. See, boxes are white, and the pictures we made today will be cut out and put on white to go on the box with all the labels and great looking graphic design--but the above picture would look totally out of place on white--just not plausible. So, I quickly turned off the fill flashes I was using on the right side and the background, leaving just one ProPhoto Acute D4 flash head in a three foot strip box to the left. This puts out a powerful, directed light, at one soft and edgy. I'm in love, if you can't tell. 

f/11 keeps the Flash under control and gives me sharp focus throughout the picture, while the 1/200s shutter speed removes the light leaking across the set from the garage door we opened to cool off.

Cause, ya know, I have to show the talent how to do these exercises, so I get pretty warmed up...

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