Personal Project; People At Work; John Siskin’s On The Job Page 2

Most of the time, if people are actually working, the lighting is flash fill. I almost always shoot with a strobe, even when the entire project is outdoors. But if I am working on a facilities brochure or making a shot to match a layout, I may use six or more strobes to make a shot. Most of the time I use Norman 200B units because they are battery powered and have a good amount of power. Don’t forget to look for dramatic light from the subject—anytime you can get fire in a picture, from a torch or an oven or some burning substance, the shot will be dramatic! I also look for the sun; often I use it behind the subject, and a strobe to open up the face.

Look for good angles, but be sure your position is secure.

I use a wide-angle zoom almost exclusively for this kind of work. One reason is that I don’t like to change lenses in a dusty environment. I also do it because when I am close to the work my shot will be more three-dimensional. Too often, people use a zoom lens to bring the subject closer when they should walk up to the subject. Remember, a wide-angle lens will do a better job of separating the subject and the background. So if I am shooting a bulldozer, I will stand as close as I can and use a wide-angle lens. This gives the shot a much more powerful look.

I do a good deal of post-processing. There are a lot of things you can do at a shoot, but you can’t always do everything. I like to leave a little room at the edges of my frame. I may want to straighten an image or even crop a horizontal image from one that began as a vertical shot. In addition to cropping, I do saturation, perspective, and whatever else seems useful. The idea is to make a shot the business can use, whether for web, print, or any other purpose.

In this shot I am just a few feet from the bulldozer. I used a 28mm focal length with a full-frame camera.

John Siskin is a commercial and fine art photographer who specializes in making architectural images as well as product, macro, and portraiture photographs. He has taught photography for more than 20 years. He is currently teaching "An Introduction to Photographic Lighting" and "Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio" at His first book, "Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting" (Amherst Media), comes out in the fall. His website is

In this shot I changed the color in post, putting in both red and magenta. I think this makes the image much more effective.

Author’s Note
I would like to thank Terry Beeler & Son General Contractor, Inc. You can see more of my construction photography on their website at:

For these shots I used a Kodak Professional DCS PRO 14n with a Nikkor 18-35mm lens and a Tokina AT-X 28-70mm lens. I also used Norman 200B strobes. Since these shots are outside, I had the strobe on a bracket and a reflector with a glass dome diffuser. I also kept a set of barn doors on the light to give me a little more control.