Monday, February 9, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack Obama: Logistics & Perspectives

The inauguration of Barack Obama meant a great deal to the nation. To the photographers covering it, while it's historic, it is also familiar. Yet, everyone has their own perspective and approach.

For those coming from outside of Washington, or who are here in DC and covering this big event for the first time, we produced the "Inaugural 'Pre-Game' Behind-The-Scenes Video" to let you know as much as we could about how the "big day" was going to shape up. Following that, preparation continued.

We taped off a 30" x 5' section on the floor of our office (if you look closely, you'll see the tape on the carpet early in the video at the end of this post), and set up our most sturdy tripod.

We next turned to the duration of the pinacle of the day - the actual swearing in ceremony. We recounted our testing of the cameras, and CF card speeds in this video - 30 Seconds and counting - where we learned the best solutions for achieving the maximum number of images. While we had two cameras set up to be triggered remotely (as noted below), we also took a minute to talk to our colleague Scott Andrews of Canon - Scott Andrews, Remote Cameras, and the inauguration - about his perspective from the center stand.

(Continued after the Jump)

Once we were content with our tripod's rigidity, we attached to the top of the tripod the lynchpin of the setup - a Bogen 131D lateral Side Arm, which allowed for two Bogen 410 geared head with quick release tripod heads, as well as two other Bogen heads to be attached with Bogen super clamps in the middle. Attached to the legs are two Bogen magic arm, camera platform, and super clamps holding the D300 and D700 as well.

Below is the camera setup as seen from my standing position. The Tripod was leveled first, then the Bogen 131D arm attached. Then each of the end heads attached. Following that, the super clamps in the center, each with a head holding a 300mm and 500mm lens respectively (click the image to see it larger).

Below is the setup, as seen from above looking down on it. In this image, you can better see the D300 in the front. You'll also note that while I am making this image with the missing D3, all the other cameras are triggered by the D3, which is the only one I will be looking through. Every other camera has been prepositioned and pre-focused and locked down.(click the image to see it larger).

As someone who spent more of my formative years than I had planned living in the wilderness of Alaska, I earned the hat I am wearing, and it is keeping my head very warm indeed, and I've worn it for several of the last inaugurals. In the foreground of this image is the Canon XHA1 video camera that we used to do all the interviews in the video at the bottom. (click the image to see it larger).

Final preparations and packing took place on Monday, January 19th in the afternoon, as I had an assignment that would keep my busy until 1am Monday night. By the time I got back to the office it was 2am, and 30 minutes later I was asleep. The video below picks up two hours later, at 4:30 am.

In a bit of a departure from our normal videos, we've started with the departure from the office, then the journey to the Capitol, and we then turn our attention to interviewing several of my colleagues - Dudley Brooks of Ebony/Jet Magazines, Dirk Halstead of the Digital Journalist (read more of his thoughts here), David Burnett of Contact Press, Vincent Laforet of Time/Laforet Visuals, Chuck Kennedy of McClatchy Newspapers, and Paul Morse, working for the Official Inaugural Book Project.

(to view the video on Viddler with a lower bandwidth connection, click here, and if you have more bandwidth, and want to watch it FULL SCREEN, click above on the lower right corner of the screen, or click here to watch it at Viddler.)

To answer the obvious question - yes, each camera made exactly the image I had planned. All were just focused as planned, and I have multiple perspectives to consider, as do those looking to license an image I produced. The payoff was that all the planning and attention to detail resulted in a smooth execution without any significant problems.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Keith Tharp said...

Safe to say the most photographed 30 seconds to date?

AdvRdr said...

Nice video John -- good cross section of shooters in the interviews.

Egy Azziera said...

First off we would like to congratulate you on your fine public speaking skills. It looks like those who said the Obama Administration would strike while the iron is hot may have been correct, and the Administration may be doing it in a way that does not require them to even get a vote in Congress.

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