Shooting interior of a gas plant

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by vale_surfer, May 3, 2014.

  1. Hi
    I have to photograph the interior of a gas plant next week. The factory gets some light from the sun but not much.
    I haven't visited the plant yet so can't really say how large the interior is
    What are some of the ways to light interiors of such plants? I'm leaning in favour of continuos halogen lighting which I will have to rent. I have a few off camera flashes that work as strobes for interiors but they wont be of much use here, I think.
    I'd appreciate answers from anyone who's done this previously. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Before we get into all of that ... What's the purpose of the photos? Are we documenting hardware and safety procedures
    of individual pieces of equipment? Doing environmental portraits of the staff? Trying to portray long/wide shots of the
    entire facility?

    What does the plant safety officer have to say about you stringing up long extension cords and using hot quartz lights
    around untold millions of cubic feet of flammable inventory?

    Need more to go on, here.
     
  3. Sturdy tripod and long exposures, try using the HDR process as well.
     
  4. Two or three 500w Lowell Lights can be very useful.
     
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    I shot the exterior of a gas plant once. They were obviously extremely cautious about where I went. I opted to shoot just before sunrise to get a bit of blue in the sky and I used HDR at f22. I would try what Michael suggests, various long exposures on a sturdy tripod, and play with HDR if there is a large range of light values in the frame. If I was serious about this kind of thing I would use a tilt shift lens to correct all the verticals.
     
  6. I spent my career in Petrochemical Plants - I suspect that you could even have problems with your camera in an operating gas plant. In some of the facilities where I worked, all equipment had to be deemed "intrinsically" safe to go into operating areas - i.e. radios, cell phones, ... Get a hold of the plant's safety dept as soon as possible to determine restrictions and requirements. This is definitely not a situation to get surprised on the day of your shoot.
     
  7. Shooting an overview of a large factory-like interior and shooting closeups of individual pieces of equipment and/or people are two different things when it comes to lighting. For the overview, you might need large, powerful units or a bunch of smaller, less powerful units. For the individual equuipment, the flashes you have might be just fine. But as others have noted, this is a gas plant. A flash is essentially a big spark even though it's contained inside a glass tube -- glass tubes that on rare occasions are known to break when fired. Hot lights are hot. That said, they presumably do have lighting within the plant. Definitely do talk to the safety people.
     
  8. All of the operating industrial plants I've been in have been well-lit. It is a safety issue, if nothing else. That said, certain types of shots are indeed likely to benefit from a tripod and multi-shot HDR, if you can do that. As a practical matter, I don't think you will be able to light much; a lot of power would be required, and inverse-square issues would often create problems. If you can have an assistant or two, some off-camera flash might be nice. But for most shots, I suspect available light will be the way to go. That said, by all means talk to your hosts and try to get very clear on what they want, what they expect, what they will allow you to do--and what personal protective equipment they expect you to wear, and then think about how that may affect how you can operate your gear (e.g., can you remove safety glasses to use a camera viewfinder?).
     
  9. More interestingly what kind of liability insurance do you have?
     
  10. Matt - these will be long / wide shots of the factory interiors, without getting too close to the operating staff.
    Ellis - thanks for pointing that out, haven't thought about it yet ! I've shot in factories but not in gas plants.
    I will carry a few hot lights, just in case but maybe multiple shots for HDR is a better idea. Thanks.
     
  11. Usually knowing that I (as a contractor working on a job site) have a liability policy is a requirement by my industrial
    clients. I have one energy industry client that requires me to carry a very, very large liability policy (well over
    $1,000,000). I am USA based so that may be a factor.

    Re: hot lights. I'll be surprised if they are of much use for you or if you will be allowed to use them in a gas plant. I'd also
    be very surprised if you are allowed to flash of any power as well. What I have encountered in photographing
    gas/petroleum plants is that any lighting source that could result in the possibility of an electrical discharge near anything
    that could leak volatile hydrocarbons needs to be a sealed instrument.

    Re:hot lights part II: during a 1/60th second exposure a 75 watt-second flash emits more usable light than a 500 watt
    quartz-halogen or tungsten light. Of course if you can 1or 2 second exposures than enough light will accumulate that the
    differences are neglible and start to go in favor of the hot lights.
     
  12. I would think of using faster glass. The last time I shot a plant I used my 50 1.8 and 85 1.2L three Canon 580 EX II flashes on and off camera. However, most of the shots where done with the 85 1.2l with no flash.
     
  13. Ellis - thanks, as always, for your detailed responses.
    I've lived in the US previously and know they do it very differently there. In India, a client put me in a small cabin attached to a crane to get a shot of a building from 70 feet in the air. I had a harness but that wasn't of much use.
    One doesn't complain because someone will do it for less if I don't !
     
  14. More interestingly what kind of liability insurance do you have?​
    Probably nowhere near as much as the plant has.
     
  15. Probably nowhere near as much as the plant has.​
    Which doesn't actually address the situation. If the client wants you to carry liability insurance against something bad happening because of your actions while working, how much liability insurance they carry really doesn't matter.
     

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