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Get to Know the Installation Location Before Shooting for Large-Format

Guest blog by Billy Elkins

Billy Elkins

In my last blog, I wrote about communication and went over the five-part process for photographing for large-format printing. Let’s look more specifically at scouting the final installation location. This is the part that is usually the most intimidating for photographers who are not used to photographing for large-format.

Often it is not a simple single surface. In fact, most of the time, the location is more complicated. As the photographer, we normally do not have access to the location of the installation so knowing as many details about the location as possible is important when capturing the image. The previous example from the Sarasota International Airport illustrates that perfectly.

Riverwalk image after final installation at the Sarasota Airport

The image for the airport had to be installed on the back wall directly behind the baggage claim area. This presented a few challenges because of the actual baggage claim window, a large advertising display screen, a column in the middle of the wall and the actual baggage claim conveyor belt system.

Like any other large format photography project, having a photograph of the installation location is useful for conceptually trying to decide how to capture the right image and from the right angle and the right size.

Understanding the location of the final image applies to all large-format photography projects. If you consider vehicle wraps, wall murals or trade show displays, they all have their own installation challenges that, as the image maker, we need to be aware of for the best results.

For this next example project, I was commissioned by LexJet to create an image for their “Carnival” themed trade show booth. The booth itself was 50-feet wide, and they wanted the photo to be the whole backdrop. The installation would be printed on LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl, and then installed on the back wall of the trade show exhibition floor.

The final image size ended up being 50-feet wide by 25-feet high. This was huge! When you entered the trade show floor, you could see the “Carnival” in the background and could smell the popcorn from the booth. I worked directly with the marketing team to create different versions of the background so they could integrate the best option with the rest of the booth design.

The fair image installed behind the LexJet trade show booth.

So how did we do it? We visited the Florida State Fair and spent most of the day capturing different scenes that were potential backdrops. I brought my full bag of lenses, and we decided on a focal length of 50mm, it is the closest focal length to what we actually see. I made very tight overlapping images so that we had as much resolution as possible knowing that final image size needed to be so big.

And because the marketing team was going to experiment with the concepts after the fact, we had to capture as many different scenes and as large as possible. The idea was to give the feel of walking right up to the carnival. In addition, we crafted images to be used for the rest of the booth and to be used for sample material give-aways.

Technical Details:

  • Camera – Nikon D800
  • Lens- Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Focal Length – 50mm
  • F-Stop – f/9
  • Shutter – 1/650
  • ISO – 200
  • Frames – 20 overlapping NEF files

The image was merged using Adobe Photoshop CC Automate > Photomerge. I provided a final layered PSD file to the marketing team so they could make any adjustments for layout and for printing.

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Shellie has more than 20 years of experience in the print publication industry as a content strategist, editor and writer. She has partnered with printing, photography and graphics professionals on a wide variety of publications and printing projects. At LexJet, she writes about customer experiences, industry trends, new products and the latest inkjet printing innovations.

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