Skipworth decided to do the shoot with a Sinar 4x5 camera. He says it was an easy call, since the front of the camera could be tilted to get an even focus of the large group from front to back. The camera was hauled to the top of a 35-foot scaffolding
built by the U.N., which, when combined with the camera tilt, successfully compensated for a shallow depth of field and the variations in subject height. Since a wide-angle lens would make the people in the front row appear larger than those in back, he chose a slightly longer-than-normal lens (150mm) to compress the image and to allow him to pull the camera back about 100 feet.
Working closely with the Photogenic group, headed by John Shirilla, Skipworth determined he would need between 6,000 and 9,000 watt seconds of light to get the needed depth of field and a sufficient light spread. (Note: My hammerhead flash has about 300w/s of power, and your typical Canon 580 probably has less than 80 or 100 w/s of power full output, direct flash.) O-O!
"The main issue for us was to light evenly," says Shirilla. "We did a lot of testing to have every area in the photograph read at f/22. That took a lot of light."
For the main exposure, Shirilla set up four main lights, consisting of 16-inch parabolas, on the high platform. Since the main source was 100 feet back and was therefore producing a harsh light, he added six more lights, three on each side, for fill. These lights were mounted on six custom-made 23-foot light stands topped with Photogenic Eclipse umbrellas that have a flat center for efficient light spread.
The Photogenic group, headed by John Shirilla, set up the lighting for the shoot.
"We found that even 23 feet wasn't high enough, so we added eight-foot platforms for a total of 31 feet," says Shirilla. "That completely took care of the cross shadows.
We actually found that the distance between the chairs worked in our favor, since the shadows would fall down behind each subject."
To complete the setup, two hair light kickers, or "garlic lights," were placed at the back of the group to provide definition of heads and shoulders.
"We know that a little garlic goes a long way," laughs Shirilla, "so we had those lights set at just f/5.6."
"That lighting especially worked for Castro," he adds. "He has a nice highlight on the side of his face."