I love working as a Belfast Photographer. What makes it even better is when i get brand new work from clients that i never met after they have contacted me via this website. I meet lots of people who don’t have a presence on the internet and they often say, “websites don’t work for me!” I actually used to be of that opinion, that websites were for people to browse. After working on mine though i get a good percentage of new leads. Anyway, back to the pictures!
So Ryan from CBS Outdoor got in touch. This is a company that many of you probably have never heard of but be assured you probably see the fruits of their labour everyday if you live in Belfast. They provide illuminated signage on Translink double decker buses in the Belfast area. So instead of the normal adverts which are harder to see in dark, the signs that CBS Outdoor provide light up. There are 35 buses with the illuminated signs moving around the Belfast area, all of which come back to city centre at some point during their evenings work. This would give me plenty of chances to get the shots i need.
So my challenge from Ryan was to photograph two different adverts over two weeks in Belfast City centre. The first advert i had to photograph was for The Hobbit movie and the second would be for Heineken. Do to the nature of the work Ryan of course asked to see some samples. I immediately had to tell him i didn’t have any have pictures of buses with illuminated signage, so i proposed some test images.
So these images were supposed to be rough and i wanted to try a few different things to see what the guys at CBS Outdoor liked best. This image whilst looking cool wasn’t what they wanted. They liked the width and the closeness but not the slight blur of the text. CBS Outdoor wanted everything in focus with no blur.
Ok so cue the next style of image. Everything was in focus and the sign was clearly lit. But this image has several problems. The bus is turned off and this the sign is not lit. Because i was using two speedlights to light the bus the sign looks illuminated. The second big problem was that there was no people in the image. CBS Outdoor wanted the images to show the visual impact of the illuminated signage with the public in view. I had to rethink my approach. So far i was using two speedlights on stands at two fixed points outside of Belfast City Hall. I had to wait until the applicable buses passed through my area which result in my patience being tested as buses went down different roads! I also had issues with members of the public walking in to the light stands despite having them illuminated.
So i had to make things a lot more simple. Two cameras, two different lenses. This made life so much easier in the cold depths of a Belfast winter. I had my D3s with 70-200mm F2.8 VR and my D600 with 24-70mm F2.8 on a Blackrapid dual camera strap. This set up meant i could be a lot more mobile and move around to chase after buses to get a lot more images in the bag. For both adverts i usually started at the bottom of Royal Avenue in Belfast and made my way up to City Hall. This would give a great selection of images but the biggest benefit would be people. As it was just before Christmas there would be people everywhere.
All of the sample images were rough and unedited. The final images needed to be a lot more polished.
I shot this image on Bank Street at 70mm ISO 3200 F2.8. The image shows people walking through the scene and the bus advertising doing its job. Its pretty hard not to look at a big bus with an illuminated sign. This first shot give me new challenges. So i didn’t have any speedlights to worry about but because i was relying on ambient light i had to ramp up the ISO and widen the aperture of the lens. These both can result in slightly soft images. Sometimes the buses were actually moving so maintain focus was also an issue.
After a little testing and adjusting i managed to get a good bank of images.
With a bank of 20 images for The Hobbit after two hours of shooting i was done. Heineken buses were next up. I would use exactly the same approach as last time. Two cameras, no speedlights and plenty of people walking through the images to show the potential reach of the bus adverts.