How I Got That Shot
Lit by Fire Trucks
CLIEN T: Enbridge
AGENC Y: The Wax Partnership; Monique Gamache, art director
The energy company Enbridge was eager to show the other facets of the
company, such as solar power, wind power, support for the arts, environmental stewardship and help for local communities. Photographer Peter
Leverman says, “This was an unusual project in that the agency gave me
general topics for a series of ads, and asked me what my idea would be,
and then asked me to draw them.” One ad highlighted Enbridge’s support for volunteer fire departments in small communities. Leverman created a scenario of a volunteer fire crew chatting with kids after a fire
call. “My concept was to have a small-town scenario that felt believable,”
The ad agency suggested some towns and, working with producer
Nicole Waring, Leverman used Google live view to scout locations before
he chose a main street in a Manitoba village. “This one appealed to me because it seemed like it could be 2010 but it hasn’t changed that much in a
long time,” he says.
Leverman continues to shoot more executions for the campaign.
© Jennie Leverman
LOGISTICS: Inspired by old westerns and movies set in small towns,
Leverman wanted to shoot the street from a high vantage point. “I set up
the camera on top of a platform on the back of a flatbed truck. We worked
out our talent and equipment positions while the sun was still up.” After the
dinner break, Leverman and the crew began waiting for the sky to darken.
“Kids can have short attention spans so I tried not to wear them out by
shooting too much early on, then shouted lots of encouragement once the
light got really good,” the photographer recalls.
LIGH TING: “I could have brought in lots of lights and a big crew, but I felt
strongly that using balanced ambient and available light was the way to
go.” The fire chief was an important collaborator, turning on and off lights
on the truck to light the scene. Says Leverman, “I had less control of the
street lights and shop windows but was able to achieve a good balance
well after sundown.
“The boys are lit with the headlights of our rental SUV,” says Leverman.
“I thought if I put strobe light or tungsten in front of them, it wouldn’t look
as believable as it would if it looked like a car was pulling up to pass them.
I find if you introduce strobe into natural light situations, you have to be
careful, it can look fake.”
As the sky darkened at dusk, the lighting looked better. “It looked good
earlier, but everything is much more interesting and moody and mysteri-
ous and colorful at dusk. When the light was very dark to the eye, we would
think we were about to finish, but I would keep looking at the image and
could see it would get better.”
CAMERA: Nikon D3x with the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G VR lens
EXPOSURE: f/4 at 1/25 of a second, 1000 ISO, focal length set to 17mm
POST PRODUCTION: Leverman worked with retoucher Mark Tyler in
Toronto. In addition to some color correction on the headlight beams,
Leverman says, “We both work on the images, with Mark doing the compositing and trickier stuff and me doing the creative look and treatment.
The final image is all from one frame with the exception of the firefighter
with the ladder.”
© peter Leverman
To see more photos and production stills from
the shoot shown here, visit the Gear section of
PDNOnline this month.