Towards the end of last year, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Inmarsat, a specialist satellite telecommunications company, who were in need of some marketing material showcasing their network operations centre. Inmarsat had been in the news recently as their technology had provided some of the last tracking data for flight MH370, the unfortunate Malaysia Airways airline that had gone missing on 8th March 2014. So I was particularly intrigued to see what the inside of a satellite communications centre looked like – the answer: pretty awesome! The NOC itself wouldn’t have looked out of place in a James Bond film – banks of computers set in front of a single huge curved screen illustrating real-time network connectivity around the globe.
As a corporate photographer, I occasionally find myself shooting screens as part of office interiors, but this was something different. In fact, Inmarsat were keen to capture a single key image of the main screen that could be blown up to a 5 metre wide banner. This in itself was a challenge as the space was too tight for a front-on shot, and in fact this probably wouldn’t have provided a dynamic enough angle anyway. The 14-24mm f2.8G Nikkor lens really came into its own here. I rarely get it out of the camera bag for the work I do, but when it does get an outing, it really comes into its own. Super-sharp and with a fantastically wide angle, it was perfect for the job.
Lighting-wise, the challenge was to reduce any extraneous ambient light on the screen. The room had windows, so these all needed to be blacked out to reduce the lighting on the ceiling which was white and needed to be as inconspicuous as possible. The need for a sharpness throughout the image meant an aperture of f16 or so, which, combined with the low light levels and need for a low ISO (bearing in mind the extreme size the shot was going to be printed at, grain had to be kept to a minimum, meaning ISO of 100 or 200), necessitated a particularly slow exposure of 3 seconds.
The final printed 5 metre wide banner came out looking fantastic. Had budget allowed it, I might have been tempted to hire a medium format camera for the job, but as it turned out, it wasn’t necessary – the image was sharp and punchy, a real testament to the Nikon D610.