Art Basel – an accidental masterful photograph 

 December 4, 2014

By  Pascal Depuhl

Art Basel fever

Every December Miami goes crazy with Art Basel fever – for many of us locals it’s just another weekend of traffic jams and tourists, but it also affords us the opportunity to see some world class art. This year I’ve been taking photographs of art installations for Illumene -a Miami event company- that has been lighting up some cool projects: a construction site on Fisher Island and today it was “The 100 Shield Warriors” by french artist Sylvain Subervie.

“The 100 Shield Warriors”

Illumene was tasked by the french artist to light the revel of 100 metal sculptures, he had created, which made up this art piece. Illumene asked me, if I were interested in photographing the Art Basel display for them, but I never imaged that the resulting photograph would be a masterpiece of Art itself. Here is the photograph:

BTS (How did you get that shot?)

Getting a great photograph does not happen by accident. In this case I knew that this specific Art Basel installation would be light and revealed after night fall, so I was there right before sunset to scout the location and find my spot.

I wanted to separate the warriors from the city, so I had to get above them, otherwise, they would have blended into the traffic and the buildings – which could have been a great shot, but was not what I had in mind. I use a couple of iPhone apps to help me, scout, in this case, ‘Cadrage’ gives me a quick director’s viewfinder to judge lens selection quickly.

I wish I could have shot the performance at the time that this screen shot is taken, but it was not dark enough and the light on the 100 shield warriors would not have been seen.

Once you got your spot (this one is actually shooting from the back of the exhibit – so stay open minded, shooting from the opposite side of everybody else has some advantages), figure out what’s going to happen. Here I was dealing with flashing LED lights in different colors, a rapidly changing sky and city scape and fog that was unpredictable.

If you look at the image of the camera capturing this piece at Art Basel, you’ll see a clear piece of material stick out from in front of the lens – it’s a ND gradient filter. I had taken it with me, because I had assumed that the city would be to bright and needed to be knocked down 2 stops – however the opposite was the case. The 100 shield warriors were too bright or the sky was getting to dark.

Just goes to show you that sometimes the best picture is all wrong: it’s shot from the wrong side, with an upside-down ND filter, too late to get the sunset sky.

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    Pascal Depuhl

    Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.