THE BIRTH OF AN AD
A top-ranking photographic illustrator takes you with him on a big assignment. You're bound to get many helpful pointers from this veteran's detailed explanation of how he makes his pictures tell the story.
EVERY time a photographer is confronted with a new photographic problem he stops to think “How can I best solve this one?” And when an assignment is entrusted to you there is a genuine responsibility involved which makes advance calculations imperative.
In making pictures for a brewery advertising campaign this spring I was confronted with problems which had to be met and conquered within a comparatively brief period of time. While the solution of these problems may seem somewhat specific it is my belief that the methods used can really be applied more universally.
Lennen & Mitchell, Inc. , (advertising agents for the Jacob Ruppert brewery in New York City) were preparing a couple of early spring ads for their client. One of these was to be based on the fact that every Tuesday a ladies’ club is invited for lunch at the Stube located within the brewery. Following a luncheon, with which beer is served, the ladies are escorted through the brewery, while the highlights of beer manufacture are shown them.
The caption of the proposed ad in this instance was to be: “Mrs. New Yorker Goes To A Party.” Myron Perley, art director for Lennen & Mitchell, commissioned me to make the photographs, and supplied me with a photostat of the layout, which had been prepared in advance by the agency and okayed by their client. Accordingly, I decided on the following
equipment and procedure for photographing the luncheon scene. A 6 x 6 cm Super Ikonta B camera was to be used, loaded with Agfa Superpan Press roll film. The 8 cm lens was to be stopped down to ƒ 11 or ƒ 16. By means of a Kalart Micromatic synchronizer, the Compur shutter was to be synchronized at 1/100 sec. with No. 20 G.E. foil flashbulbs wired to a Multiflash floor battery.
As a re-take would be practically impossible, and the actual venture was rather costly, I decided that an advance test made at the place using a few casual people as models would correct any possible error in preliminary calculations. I had wanted to limit myself to two flashes on extensions, since everybody acquainted with the “moods” of synchronization knows how many pitfalls the combination of flashbulbs, synchronizer, electric current, wire extensions, and camera shutter can conceal. Furthermore, as noted above, the place would be exceedingly crowded and space for additional lighting equipment at a premium.
The lamps used £n the tests were placed to the right as shown in the diagram of
the luncheon scene. The results showed a lack of illumination on the left background, so a third lamp on a cord at least 30 ft. long (see diagram) had to be added to cover this. All the reflectors were to be placed as high as possible under the ceiling, each held by an assistant. This would allow the waiters to get by without knocking down equipment; it was planned to let the luncheon take its regular course, in order to avoid any “posed” appearance.
The wire connections I use for my flashes are of a very thin variety, much to the disapproval of my Kalart friends, who would feel safer if I used a “brass-rail” thickness to insure a good instantaneous “lead” of current. I maintain that the freedom of movement allowed by the lighter kind amply makes up for the risk involved, as heavier equipment gradually forces you to “tighten down” on your working. Any such unfavorable influence is often visible in the finished photograph.
By adding up the various wire extensions (camera to battery to flashes) I had now run up my wire footage to 81. This
was a considerable length to bank on under the circumstances, as I was planning to use foil lamps with a narrow peak of illumination. Syncrograph tests made in my darkroom gave me a pretty even setting on my synchronizer and I was now all set to go.
As the luncheon was scheduled for 1 o’clock I had the models arrive at 12, so as to make sure that instructions and preparations would be over by the time the guests arrived. It was a simple matter to have a little platform placed at the correct distance from the models’ table, and the camera on a tripod placed on it. By this procedure I would be relieved from constant viewing and rangefinding, and could devote my full time to directing the models and checking up on the lights. Among the things to do in advance was selecting the waiter for the foreground table and giving him instructions, as he was to “stick to us” through the whole luncheon. He was to be serving freshly poured beer to the ladies, therefore their glasses were to be almost empty. In the beginning we had the waiter bring a new supply of beer glasses
every time the foam had disappeared on the nearly empty ones.
Later we found that it would be far easier to take care of this by a slight retouching on the finished photograph.
After signatures were obtained from all the ladies who would be liable to appear in the photograph, thus releasing it for advertising, we were ready to shoot.
I made 11 exposures of this scene making slight variations every time, also having the models change seats. The last three exposures I made at 1/50 sec. to further insure synchronization. Of all these only one shot missed on account of a faulty flashbulb. The shots made at 1/50 sec. were rather soft, though, due to
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a trace of camera-jar. This had been caused in the following manner: The
platform on which the tripod stood was rather “bouncing.” After the impact of the synchronizer-plunger the relatively slow shutter speed allowed some vibration to register on the negative.
The other potographs still required for this ad were made after the luncheon. Our models, augmented by those of the guests who could be pei'suaded to join, followed along to the various rooms where pictures were scheduled to be made. All but one of these photographs were made by means of flash synchronization, but using two lamps only, as we had to work very fast.
The copper-kettle scene was taken in a huge room with large windows. The daylight entering through these gave the metal an almost transparent sheen which no flashes could bring out. Flashes would furthermore be liable to make the outside surroundings appear as at night, unless the intensity of light was very carefully balanced through advance calculations. I decided therefore to make this picture as a daylight time exposure. I used a 6x6 cm Rolleiflex camera for this scene and exposed V2 sec. at ƒ 8 on Superpan Press, which was the reading my Weston meter gave me for the foreground. An assistant holding a No. 2 photoflood in a reflector was pointing this at the foreground figures to prevent the dark tones from “going dead” on us.
In the bottling room the colors were very dark, so the diaphragm was opened up to ƒ 5.6 with 2 flashbulbs synchronized at 1/100 sec. shutter-speed. The din of the machinery made speech almost impossible here, so all the directions had to be made by hand movements, thus creating quite a handicap.
The storage tank location was a deep, narrow aisle leading past the long row of cooling tanks. Although the scene suggested itself to me as a vertical shot, the layout called for a horizontal picture, so the only way out was to back up and include some of the walls on the sides. I had to give up the idea of attempting to light up the background, as I would then only be making a picture of my own lighting equipment, there being no place to hide the flash lamps. One flash was held high at the right behind the camera, the second barely missed showing at the left edge of the picture.
After these the photographs of the filtering room and the keg-storage room with the lady tasting the beer were but simple shots. All the photographs with the exception of the one of the brewery’s Home Service Director, which had been taken in advance, were made that same afternoon, thanks to the valuable assistance and guidance I had from three gentlemen from the advertising agency and two from the Ruppert Brewery.
This advertisement appeared in 1000and 1500-line sizes, in all leading newspapers in the New York metropolitan
area. It is typical of the sort of work we are called upon to do in commercial and illustrative photography, and provided an excellent opportunity of tracing for POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY’S readers the steps to be taken in solving problems of this kind. You will notice that the equipment used was identical with that being used constantly by a great many amateurs (with the possible exception of the Multiflash unit). It is entirely possible that some of you will encounter photographic tasks which, while different from this one in actual subject matter, will nevertheless be very similar in basic principle and in many of the problems involved. And after you’ve done a few such jobs you’ll begin to get the feel of this work to a surprising degree.—fea