Archive for the ‘Commercial Photography’ Category

Making gigapixel murals with Mars rover technology

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

[by Fritz] In 2010 I got a call from Parks Canada asking if I could make 65-foot long photo-murals for their new visitor centre in Kluane National Park. I boldly said yes, having just a month earlier read about the new GigaPan Epic Pro robotic camera mount. This device incorporates technology developed by researchers at NASA and Carnegie Mellon University for the Mars rover missions to make detailed stitched panoramas of the red planet.

I was keen to use this technology to photograph Kluane’s oversize landscapes, so I scrambled to buy the device, which had been available for less than a year. I’d never made an image this size before, and I was fortunate to have a client who was open to exploring this with me. The 1,704 megapixel image below of alpine waterfalls in White Pass was a test shot in preparation for Parks Canada’s mural project. It was stitched from 196 photos taken with the 21-megapixel Canon 1DS Mark III. This photo isn’t particularly special, but it becomes much more interesting when you zoom in and explore the water, rocks and plants at full resolution. If you want to view it on an iOS device or the full-screen version go to the link at GigaPan.

In the end we made 7 photographs for Parks Canada – the largest mural will be 46-feet long and 16-feet high and is being printed from a 2,400 megapixel file. The exhibits are being installed this winter – check back in the new year when I’ll share these gigapixel images from Kluane.

Robert Service in full color

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

                                    from the Spell of the Yukon, Robert Service

[by Fritz] Last month I headed to Dawson City to shoot the Klondike National Historic Sites for the Canadian Tourism Commission. Most of the talent we pulled in were Parks Canada staff whose jobs had just ended for the season, along with some keen locals and a few tourists. It was supposed to look like a ‘summer’ shoot, but fall was in full swing here in September so we embraced it.

One afternoon we spent some time at Robert Service Cabin. Most visitors to Dawson seek out the home of the famous poet known for his verses about the Klondike Gold Rush. The weather had been cloudy and cold, but while we were there the sun beamed into the historic site. For a short time we were surrounded by magic light and golden fall colour.

While leading us around town on a walking tour, Parks Canada heritage interpreter Fred Osson became Robert Service. By the time we arrived at the cabin, we’d been listening to Fred recite Service ballads and spout off tall tales like Service. I found myself lowering the camera so I could watch the famous bard. I caught myself thinking: this actually is Robert Service, and I really am standing here on the boardwalk in 1903.

It’s easy to think about historic times in monochromatic black and white like we see in the old photos, yet Service’s life was full of colour. That afternoon Fred animated Robert Service’s world for us. Fred is incredibly gifted at what he does, and he took us back a hundred years. We re-created a historic photograph in front of the cabin porch, with Fred teasing us in and out of the past. Oddly, it was 100 years almost to the day since Service left the Yukon for good.

I’ve been to Dawson many times, yet I felt something significant at the cabin that day, like I’d travelled through time and found Klondike gold myself. It was a testament to the power of interpretation.

Photographers advocating for copyright reform

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

[by Teresa] Each year at tax time when we tally up all the business memberships, we usually have a brief debate about the merits of the various industry and business associations we support. It really adds up, so when you’re looking to trim the fat it’s a logical expense to examine. But we rarely cancel a membership – we believe in the strength of collectives, and most of these organizations work very hard to create value for members.

This year we’ve been watching the work of the Canadian Photographers Coalition, a partnership of CAPIC and PPOC that works to extend copyright fairness to working professional photographers. Canada’s copyright legislation is now being modernized, so the coalition has been very busy over the past year preparing for submissions and presentations and lobbying efforts in Ottawa. Ownership of first copyright on commissioned works is a core issue for image creators; as authors of these works photographers are seeking a small amendment to the new Copyright Act to ensure their rights of authorship are protected.

The Coalition produced a limited edition portfolio featuring 22 Canadian photographers from a range of regions and genres to present in Parliament to Ministers and committees working on Bill C-11. As one of the photographers profiled, we are pleased to have contributed to their efforts to push for copyright fairness for photographers. 

Anatomy of a portrait shoot on a blindingly bright day

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

[by Fritz] This summer I got a call from Shell Canada and Canadian Geographic to shoot the Kitchen-Kuiack family of Marsh Lake, Yukon. They’re one of six Canadian families competing in The Energy Diet Challenge. For three months Brian, Marguerite, Simone and Marika have been reducing every aspect of their energy consumption in a battle to win a 2012 Toyota Prius.

The busy Kitchen-Kuiack family were only available for two hours and the Shell Canada client was flying in for the shoot. The day before, I drove out to the house to quickly scout the location and meet Brian Kitchen. That day, the light conditions were perfect: overcast with bright open shadows.

Next morning it’s a brilliant, cloudless sunny day and by 8 am it already feels like high noon. When we arrive at 8:45 everyone cheerily points out that the weather is perfect. Not exactly! This kind of light is a photographer’s nightmare, with contrast so high that it exceeds the camera’s dynamic range. We have a long list of shots to cover in less than two hours so we get right to work. My mind is scrambling trying to figure out how to reduce the contrast with the location options we have.

We start with interior shots because it’s easier to manage the light by tacking black fabric over the windows to create an instant studio. I’ve brought my Einstein strobes and Paul C. Buff modifiers – Rob Galbraith has good reviews of this gear. We work through a series of individual and family portraits in the Kitchen’s cozy living room, including Thomas, the agreeable family cat. Because the energy challenge will be in the fall and winter, we light a fire in the fireplace, even though it’s July. I’m already sweating, and within 20 minutes everyone else is too.

Next we move outside, and though it’s a hot sunny day the Kitchens gamely wear jeans and sweatshirts. The locations I scouted yesterday don’t work today in the bright sun, so we change the plan. I’ve decided on a couple of distinctive backdrops where we can hide from the sun behind their sheds so I have more control over the light. I’m underexposing the camera and pumping in light with the Einsteins with 1 CTO gels to create a warm low-sun feel. Whew… less than two hours after we arrived, we’re packing up our gear and saying good-bye.

Summertime photo shoot in Nunavut

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Let it snow! Lifestyle photo shoot at Coghlan Lake

Monday, March 21st, 2011

[by Fritz] Great to work with Tourism Yukon, Outside the Cube and Up North Adventures on a recent two-day winter photo shoot at Coghlan Lake, Yukon.

Commercial Photo Update

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

[by Fritz] You probably know me for my signature scenics, but we do commercial shoots too. This year we landed some of the top commercial photo assignments in the North. Read on to learn about my recent commercial photography work with organizations like Yukon Economic Development, Outside the Cube, Parks Canada, Canadian Tourism Commission and Government of Nunavut.

Yukon Business Success Stories

To promote the Yukon as a fantastic place to live, work and invest, Yukon Economic Development wanted to showcase fifteen successful Yukon businesses and let their stories carry the campaign. Calgary-based Trigger Communications produced the creative; their direction was for journalistic portraits to accompany interview-based articles, and they wanted cinematic-style dirty edges. Fritz collaborated with Trigger’s art director on location: an airstrip, a lodge, a brewery, a studio and such.

Economic Development in Nunavut

This summer Fritz Mueller Photography partnered with Wildman Productions to complete an ambitious multi-community photo and video shoot for Nunavut Government. Over a three week period, Fritz and Phil and their Inuk assistant logged almost 18,000 km and shot stills and video non-stop in Iqaluit, Pond Inlet, Rankin Inlet, Igloolik and Cambridge Bay. It was a fast-paced shoot that focused on some of the companies, entrepreneurs, artists, resources and communities fuelling Nunavut’s growing economy. Though airports, construction sites, processing plants, ports and other infrastructure formed much of the shoot, environmental portraits of enterprising Nunavut residents was a core part of the shoot.

Canada’s North at Vancouver 2010 Olympics

It’s not every day you get to shoot the Olympics, and it’s also not every day that you get such a multi-layered assignment. We joined our colleagues at Outside the Cube during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games to help deliver the Canada’s North campaign. This was an intense 18-day shoot that saw Fritz juggle everything from social media coverage to grin-and-grips to long-term legacy needs for the three northern territories. He crisscrossed the Greater Vancouver area photographing Nunavut, NWT and Yukon artists and performers on the world’s stage. We’re proud to have been part of this landmark campaign that has been named one of three finalists for TIAC Marketing Campaign of the Year.

Kluane National Park Photo Collection

Parks Canada is building a new Kluane National Park & Reserve visitor centre in Haines Junction, Yukon, and planning new visitor publications, interpretive installations and multimedia. Over the past year Fritz completed several shoots in different seasons covering a wide range of activities and locations in the park. This was an ambitious, multi-faceted project involving complicated logistics, dozens of enthusiastic talent and typical Kluane conditions like -30° C temperatures, forest fire haze and high winds. Fritz worked closely with Parks Canada staff and an art director, and the shoot was guided by Parks Canada’s national photography guidelines.