Oil Gas Industrial Photographers.
Photography for investor communications worldwide.
In the quiet calm environment of an oil refinery control room there is the almost gentle in-audible voices of engineers and process techniciancians optimizing flows, temperatures and storage from the refining process.
It’s a serious business, small adjustments to keep the process operation at it’s peak efficiency.just think one or two a cents multiplied by millions would hit the bottom line very hard. However the main and most important role these control room operatives perform is safety, keeping the whole process of high temperatures and pressures mixed with a combustable product require constant vigilance.
So setting up to take photography of people working needs a little planning, understanding and the minimum of disruption. Get the right viewpoint first then set the lighting.but warn everyone in advance you are using electronic flash.sudden sparks of bright light don’t go down well in this environment.then wait.
Wait for breaks in the activity to get a few moments to engage with the ‘models’, get a few frames shot and wait again as they attend to a request from a process worker over the radio out on the refinery to switch a valve.then have it confirmed.watch the screens to set the changes.confirm that the process is with range.then grab a few more variations on the images shot.
Control rooms like these be they on or offshore, oil, petrochemical, energy production and infact any place where remote instrumentation is used are all screens and keyboards. If you think about it.mostly you only see the backs of the operatives facing the screens.not the best set up to see the faces of the people.
Getting just the right viewpoint and guiding the guys into a natural position that tells the story is a bit of an art, getting a natural look to the people and showing the working environment takes a bit of time.being photographed is not the most natural of things, but creating a natural looking image that tells the story is the reward for the planning and work.
I should say from the outset that without the willingness and good will to suffer the photographer taking hundreds of pictures that all look the same (it’s the smallest of changes that make an image come together) I could not produce image content that represents the business I’m shooting for, thank you to everyone who has stood in an uncomfortable position, sat unnaturally close to a screen.and their co-workers..had thier tidy desks made photographer tidy..and still offered me a coffee or water. Thank you.
Wind Turbine industrial photography.
Photographer of offshore wind turbine construction & testing.
Until you stand close-up to an offshore wind turbine blade it’s hard to really appreciate just how big they really are.
Delivered to the test facility this 88 meter blade fills the length of the building, now the industry is looking at blade lengths of 100+ meters.
Offshore wind energy is beating the trend for the speed of technical development and improvements in efficiencies.
Construction Industry Photographers.
Find a very small space, fill with pipes heat exchangers, valves & pumps add an engineer, client, lighting equipment..and a photographer, then photograph.
Shooting M&E can be a challenge, photography in very small spaces is not just trying to ‘get everything in’ but to show an image that has clarity and some sense of depth.
Photographing the services that keep buildings working is either done during construction phase or as part of a re-fit or upgrade, either way job one on the list when getting to a location is the ‘tidy up’. I will often ask for the location to be tidied last thing day before the shoot..it gives the airborne dust time to settle and clear, brushing the floors when you are setting for the shoot just fills the air making for less contrast in the image..fills the camera and lenses..and me.
Getting a viewpoint can be a challenge, often there will be only one view that works or is the only place you can set the camera. Then adding lighting, using a technique of mixing both flash and light painting illumination can be used to highlight and add contrast and separation to each of the elements in the photograph.
Lens selection is also a consideration, not just a case of picking the widest shortest focal length but considering how the perspective can be made less extreme by image stiching with a slightly longer focal length lens.
Long summer days mean late nights.
Long summer days can be productive if you need sunshine and skies..but for dusk and night photography the days only mean very late finishes and early starts.
Getting just the right balance of darkening sky and the working lights influencing the scene can be a short window of opportunity. The 'Golden hour'..and 'Blue hour' are often used to describe the changing light from day to night. Getting just the right time to get a night sky and yet still have enought light to contrast the structure against the sky to retain it's shape and form but still dark enough to let the working lights on the building or structure to create the magical pools of light is more an art of observation than science.
Spring and Autumn are often a great time for dramatic skies full of colour as the low sun helps the high level clouds to 'catch fire' but not everyone has time to wait for just the right sunset/sunrise so in the meanwhile it's sleep depravation time.
Oil and Gas Photographers.
Working in an explosive environment, I do like to have structure and order in my images..it adds to a visual composition that adds clarity to a photo - using people as scale and points of colour to draw the viewer into the photo.
Sometimes in complicated environments where there is a lot going on visually adding carefully positioned people into the image can add a controlled 'quite' moment in the chaos to help the viewer see and understand the context of the whole environment.
I was asked to describe my work recently and came to the opinion that my 'style' is 'classic industrial'..in so far as it's a style of imagery that shows the thing being photographed as recognisable and using it's own form to create a visual image that tells the story.
Safety is paramount, all my camera and lighting kit is battery powered..and to the best of my knowledge there are no usable to the image quality and versatility required intrinsically safe housings for the camera and variety of lenses. So under permit working it's always a 'hot works' permit on the basis of there could be a source of ignition from the camera or battery with everyone wearing a gas detector to monitor the changing conditions… the regular 'chirp' of the detector always ever present.
My ambition at 18 was to 'see the world..at someone else's expence'..I've been reasonably successful at achieving that goal, although there are many places I would still like to see.
..I also wanted to have made images for an international bank, an Oil Gas Energy company, aerospace and an international minerals mining company…all good there then.
The down side of photography in international locations is the travel..or at least the stress of "airline baggage roulette". Any photographer who travels will always keep their cameras, lenses etc with them at all times - investing in 'carry on compliant' roller cases from companies like ThinkTank..who do really great bags for photographers. I'm pretty sure most of us photographers bend the weight and size rules a little to keep our primary kit close.
However traveling with lights, stands, tripods, chargers, spare batteries, gels, triggers, tape, reflectors, soft boxes and those essential clips and claps will need to say good bye to them at check-in on thier journey to the aircraft hold..or could just as well be a black hole in space.
It causes anxiety when we loose sight of the hard plastic Peli cases - wondering if we will see them ever again, it's not so bad if the flight is a single hop, but adding connections is a whole world of worry.
So..yes the airline lost my light kit case and tripod/chargers bag..which also all my clothes and personal care 'man bag', Oh yes and my work boots/PPE etc it's the moment when you are the last person at the belt at luggage reclaim you worry..but still hope..only then the belt stops and you are facing the empty conveyor wondering what next.
So you head over to lost luggage to see whats what and in your best school boy Latvian (I have no Latvian!) enquire.."yes sir..they were delayed due to the short transfere time" (the connectiing flight was an hour delayed!) "we will possibly get then on the last flight in tonight (01.00) -then tomorrow courier to you on an overnight to your address"
Point 1 - I need them this afternoon to start the photoshoot..Point 2 - I am traveling to several locations as yet unknown, with this realisation and some paperwork that you cannot read in your hand you leave the airport to find your driver..who at this point has rang his office several times to see if I have made contact or am being detained for transporting lithium batteries the size of house bricks by aircraft (just for the record..all my kit complies to the rules and regulations set out by the TSA and CAA with regard to power capacity, size and airworthiness - I have the certificate of testing!)
So..no kit and no clean clothes..
The client was great, they made some calls..arranged for the driver (cheers Maxims) with a copy of my flight details, boarding card and Passport to return to the airport at 02.00 to collect and drive 150klms to deliver the kit so I could sart shooting the next day..also very appreciative to have my clothes and work boots.
It still causes me concern that one day I'll never see the bags again..unless it's on one of those "airport salvage container wars" programmes where the bags are auctioned off, and how to overcome the problem of no kit and the delay in working. Kit can be hired if you are somewhere near a big city..clothes can be bought..
Aircraft hold roulette..the game you cannot win.
Offshore industrial photographers with BOSIET GWO.
UK Industry photography for advertising & corporate assignments.
The sun shines and the wind blows..great for renewable energy production and photography.
Shooting location industrial photography offshore can be a challenging task, not only trying to create images that will tell the story and the client will be pleased with the created content, but the severe limitations of the environment.
Taking as read working safely there is the limited places you can go to get a good shot, if you are on a vessel there's nowhere else to go, yes..you can use a drone to expand the viewpoints but for many activities it could be a distraction to the crew or crane operator during very high pressure and critical activities -often many big lifts are done at night so no 'line of sight' to the drone.
The renewables sector continues to advance at a pace, better efficiencies, improved tech and research are help to move generation towards a carbon neutral energy.
Offshore Photographer - how big can theses blades get?
At what point will the blades for offshore wind turbines become too big to be effficient for the production of renewable energy..and feasible to construct.
With new offshore wind farms in development, and the biggest including the Orsted Hornsea One, when will the scale of resources needed to design and build just get too expensive to justify the ROI.
It's useful as an industrial photographer working in the renewables and offshore sectors to get to see the advances of technology, not just the developments but the early stage research, design, test and manufacture of many of the componants. The biggest to date 88.4m XL blade from GErenewables LM Wind will soon be surpassed by a 100m blade, and the generators now being upgraded to 8.8mw will improve the ROI.
Different methods of fixing or even floating the structures in offshore environments using gravity or suction bases is less invasive during construction than piling into the sea bed - using air/bubble curtains to reduce impact to the marine wild life.
Photography of offshore renewables certainly gets you in close proximity to the work, being so close you stand in awe of the sheer scale of the componants, how small the people are and what will be the next jump in development.
Photographers offshore: Jack Up barges. GMS Evolution GMS Endeavour.
Industrial & Advertising Photographers offshore.
I love my work..well..still love creating interesting image content that gets noticed.
This image is of two offshore jack up barges that will be home for the workers construction the new Hornsea One wind farm, when your job site is 120klm offshore traveling is not realy practical. The GMS Endeavour and Evolution will act as accommodation bases during the construction of the turbines and sub-stations.
The image was not commissioned, I saw this on my way home from another renewables shoot and apart from wanting a closer look thought there was potential for an image. The 'ship in the sky' certainly raised (groan!!) some interest in the local with many people enjoying the unseasonably warm day to visit the area to take in the spectical.
I shared the image on my LinkedIn network, within 5 days over 12,000 views were recorded and climbing.
Having made regular posts on Linked In to date this has had the most views, validation that a great image can drive viewers and traffic to your business, put that into context..my own network is just over 700 carefully people targeted people that I think would have in interest in my type and style of photography, and based upon stats for direct marketing we are way ahead of the curve for converting content into enquiries.
But that asides its's the images that count..it's the initial point that a potential customer or stakeholder will pause instead of moving onto the next post..tha pause is where you can connect.
EDF to invest $8 billion in battery storage capacity.
Industrial photographers in Renewable Energy battery storage.
Photography of people in industrial location. Commercial, Advertising Photography.
Next time you complain about no charge on your mobile phone just think what happens if there was no electicity left to switch on the TV, lights or your computer.
Think of the electricty demand peak events such as commercial breaks in the X factor finals or the forthcoming royal wedding, those peak demands on generation planning require many assets to be brought on line just at the right moment, those assets needing to be running at full power before switching in the generators to produce the electricity.
To be able to draw down at a milliseconds notice enough electricity to bridge the gap between demand and generation means generation resources can be used more efficiently, and store power produced by renewable sources.
EDF have announced an $8 billion (£7 billion) investment over the next 2 decades in battery storage capacity, having already commissioned and brought online a 49MW facility they are continuing to move towards reduced carbon eneregy production.
How do you choose only nine images, if you have looked at the portfolio pages on this website the issue seems to be too many rather than too few. I'm still looking at choosing a much smaller number of images to show my industrial photography, but am having separtion issues about reducing content.
I ask myself..often..is it enough just to show a few images that show the type of work you do, or will visitors only assume that is all you can do..if you show a picture of an oil refinery can viewers make the visual jump to a paint factory.
As an industrial photographer the locations we work in can be very diverse but still require the same level of creativity and skill to achieve great loooking images. Then add into the mix shooting to brand image guides and also creative post production, all making the body of work more diverse and creatively different.
I understand about creating a body of work on a single subject but if that is what you show will viewers ony think that is all you can produce. Perhaps it's time to hand this off to a picture editor or photo rep to decide, perhaps just too near the subject to understand the core of my own photography.
Fundamentals of Mobile Heavy Equipment.
Authors: Gus Wright Owen C. Duffy. Scott A. Heard CDX Learning Systems.
Photo: Chris Henderson.
If you are starting out on your career as a plant fitter, mechanic or engineer this book could be one of the first texts you will study on your career path, the knowledge contents passed down to the next new apprentice by an old hand explaining how 1kg of hydraulic force can become 10kg over a wider surface area, a library of terms, maintenance procedures and safety critical systems to learn and understand before being let loose on machines that are worth $$$$$$ and down time costs even more to production schedules.
The photograph was originally taken as test image to show how with one single flashlight a large object could be photographed and lit to studio quality in a less than perfect location. (Credit: Big thanks to Glynn Roberts -site manager at the location for taking the time to set up the CAT 777D truck)
It's a cool concept to ponder on the number of students starting out on their careers that will see this book cover, may be even keeping someone inspired to achieve their goals.
Yes it's just photography, and have a lot of work published over the years but educational books have a long shelf life, are sold, re-sold, passed on and kept as reference for a whole career..and if any one else like me enjoys a good technical manual make for a good read.
If just one person chooses this career path and the pivotal decision was inspired by the image I will be a very happy photographer knowing to have had such a direct influence for the good on someone. (If that's you..I hope you have a career that brings as much reward and satisfaction as I have realised from being an industrial photographer)
Site safety inductions.
Throughout the course of a year it is fair to say that I get many safety inductions and briefings, as a contractor that in most cases goes to each site or location only a few times during the course of a project I am often going to a new location every week.
I have had my fair share of 'site welfare' use over the years..and every cup of coffee is always accepted with good heart and thanks. Some work sites are only temporary for the duration of a particular operation - these tend to have a smaller compliment of crews typically 10 -20 persons.
So by way of' thanks for the coffee' I will sometimes bring a 'something' for the site mess, upon presenting the sweet treats to the project manager "ah it's coffee time..come down and meet the team..you can do a tool box talk"
I was introduced and asked to talk about my gift - it was great opportunity meet everyone and very brief tell the story of the message on the boxes, I really wanted to let everyone know that safety was the number one priority and thank them in advance for looking out for me.
The picture on the boxes is my one family - it's a few years old now but just reminds us all of what we would miss if we did not return home from work.
Recycling of offshore oil gas rigs. Shell Brent Delta demolition photography.
Shell's Brent Delta one of the largest and oldest oil production platforms in the North Sea has been brought to shore at the end of it's working life.
After nearly 40 years at sea (just think how long your car would last in that environment) the 44 meter tall excluding the flare stack, 24,000 tonne structure will be environmentally dismantled at the Able UK's Seaton Port, Hartlepool, UK with over 97% to be recycled.
A massive undertaking even taking the title 'largest ever marine lift' -to date anyway. It's the beginning of a new industry at such a scale, the decommissioning of such structures and the legal requiremnts for companies to remove such structures at the end of their working lives will see more growth in this offshore sector.
The last blade placed..hooks turned away..prepare for sea..back to home port.
After 14 months working on the same project I'm wondering how the time passed so quickly, time passes quickly when you are busy. Recording a project as it progresses you never quite see the end coming, each shoot is a familiar but a subtle change from the last.
Progress photography is often viewed as a record of fact-part of the contract-an unnecessary expense..something to show site visitors..put into a draw and forget about..WRONG!
Progress imagery is a tool for your shareholder and stakeholders, it keeps your project and business in the news and on social media streams, it engages and maintains your company profile in the market place..keeps people interested..influences perceptions..shows what you ARE doing. to just what you have done.
Don't just think that progress photography is for site use..with the right images it's content for your annual report, exhibitions and marketing and social feeds. The 'we have no budget' is the statement of now and when imagery is needed some time down the road you cannot go back..you missed the opportunity for the big lift, the float out, the pour...how many times have you asked 'have we got some images of..from that project...' too late time has passed and you missed it.
Marking the completion of the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Project EDF Energies Nouvelle CEO Antoine Cahuzac presented to a group of French and international syndicated media, describing the industry firsts and innovations used in the project.
During an informal session he was able to use the display of over 50 printed images to visualise the technical aspects of this project, but also talk about how EDF were going to develop the technologies on future projects in planning.
I'm thinking the message I am coming too is that 'we hqve no budget' doesn't cut it. The resource of image content produced has been used worldwide to share the future facing aspirations, share the learned knowledge and consolidate an ethos in renewable power generation.
If you want to lead from the front..not having quality imagery to share reduces the ability to tell your story, and when you do..it gets used in so many more ways.
For this project the following training was undertaken:
OPITO Combined BOSIET, Sea Survival, HUET, MIST,Norwegian Chute.
GWO RUK Working/Rescue from Height, Sea Survival, Boat Transfer Wind Turbine.
A location can make you think differently about the image content you create, in big cities like London, New York and Hong Kong you can feel the 'buzz' -it changes how you interperate your subject - how you feel about the compositions -the way you want to use the suroundings to make the image.
I have always loved being at sea, it's where I feel at home and at the same time insignificant, the picture become about the sea scape, the way huge structures and vessels at the dock side become small and of inconsequence in the vast oceans. Even look out from shore is a very different experience from the view back to shore..it starts to look like a very long way to swim.
Off the coast of Northumberland UK, a series of works firsts is being constructed by EDF Energy Renewables, 5 innovative constructed wind turbines (Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Project) have had their bases constructed on shore -floated out to sea -then had their 8.3MW installed and connected to shore by the first 66KV cable, and will provide enough clean energy for up to 34,000 homes.
The Jan de Nul vessel Vole au Vent loaded out in Esbjerg carrying MHI Vestas towers, blades and nacels. The full compliment of the army will be done in two voyages and should complete the work by late September.
More training completed. GWO RUK
Opito BOSIET + CA-EBS, MIST +Norwegian Sect. RUK/GWO WAH & Rescue Wind Turbines, GWO Sea Survival, RUK MST Vessel Transit & Transfer, CSCS+Working at Height..the list of industry safety training is getting longer.
Let's get straight to it..all this training takes time and incurs considerable expense, however it does open up opportunities for access to client commissions.
The oil and gas industry although has had a tough time of late is still a thriving industry with many new projects in planning, the renewables and wind energy generation is a fast growing but still quite a young industry that continues to grow.
To support an ongoing commission I was asked to undertake safety training to enable access to offshore wind turbines and construction vessels, this involves not just getting to and transiting to the structures, but also climbing and in an emergency escaping from the top nacel or performing a rescue of a colleague, as well as sea survival.
Most of the vessels involved in the construction of offshore wind installations require the oil and gas BOSIET, this covers also sea survival, fire fighting, escape from smoke filled compartments and the HUET..a simulated helicopter ditching at sea and underwater inversion.
Although there were many areas of learning that cross over each has specific areas of training to cover, and stepping off an approx 30 meter training tower to experience how the Milan controlled rate descender works takes a bit of nerve.
I completed both BOSIET and RUK/GWO courses with Advanced Industrial Solutions Newcastle facility..worlds class facilities, knowledgeable training delivered by some great instructors..and the on site food facility provides great quality hearty meals with plenty of dietary choices (fyi-I'm not selling AIS..bit praising the whole set-up)
So...want some offshore projects photographed..I'm qualified.
Floating Wind Gravity Bases. Renewables offshore photographers.
It was great to see the EDF wind gravity base being released from it's construction drydock, in the dawn light 04.30 the first floating base was gently drawn from the flood drydock into the river Tyne, Wallsend, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.
This sees the end of the construction phase photography, now it's onto the offshore installation operation-really looking forward to seeing the completed project installed towards the end of this year. Having my offshore BOSIET etc means access to the construction vessels-mostly Dutch so guaranteed great coffee and creamer. (these are important details for a coffee powered photographer!)
EDF ER Chief Executive Matthieu Hue said:
“This is the first major offshore operation on this project and over the coming months people will be able to see the wind farm being built out at sea. This ground-breaking scheme will benefit the North East of England and help the UK to meet its future low carbon electricity needs.
“This is the first time that this float and submerge method has been used on a wind farm project.
The GBFs are held in place by gravity and this unique design reduces the need to use expensive marine equipment for the installation on the sea bed.”
– MATTHIEU HUE
These are a few of the image that were sent out within a couple of hours of the base floating down river, the wind and renewables industry pr, press and social news feeds made for some wide coverage of this world first across the world.
The importance of a clear strategy communicated effectively can never be underestimated.
-Photographers are hired on the basis of geographical location, specialism, nepotism or sometimes just being in the right place at the right time -Photographers will often accept work because it's good business, they need the money, there's an empty space in the diary, too scared and too poor to say no, and in between those states is the angst of the void.
Is this the best I can do, will I ever work again, can I sustain the workload, how can I be in two places at once, is it worth the grief, everyones work is better...was I ever good enough?
I have always liked the quote by Steve McQueen 'racing is life-anything before or after is just waiting', creating new work is both at the same time an opportunity for greatness or disappointment, a moment to define your condition-validate your creative or technical expertise in your chosen creative medium.
I have always struggled with the void between assignments-finding 'busy' work to do, researching locations, sales, social media, the accounts-VAT-Tax, looking for that 'something' that will be the eureka moment, looking for the dream client or assignment that is more important than life itself.
There are many 'business coaches' out there who I'm sure can help me for a fee to understand what my goals are, have the mindset to win those dream jobs and achieve greatness..although I do question what greatness is these days!
One of the best tools for both business and mind-it doesn't cost a fortune, has no ongoing consultancy fees and minimal application costs..a magnetic whiteboard.
I put one of these up in my office some time back, it has listed the usual whiteboard stuff-all current work-things to do/remember-picture of the kids and dog and those free promotional magnets you get sent for your refrigerator door.
The most useful feature is the section for 'thoughts' the place where I layout goals and targets and any useful info and resources, it's the place where I can stand back-look with clarity at the next thing to do, don't underestimate the power of accomplishment in wiping off an item..it is liberating and addictive!
It's too easy to be swamped by the sheer mass of influences we take in, after all that's how we thrive and grow as creatives-letting these distractions add to our own interpretations, but in all the noise we need to hear our own soundtrack.