As a commercial photographer, my usual assignment involves photographing new merchandise fresh out of the box. My job is to make things look perfect: everything sharp, well lit, blemish-free and with accurate color.
When it comes to personal projects, I often break away from this perfect world and shoot heavily textured, dirty old things. My building’s sprawling fire sprinkler pump and meter, featured in this article, fits this funky category very well. Like many subjects I have chosen to photograph, this plumbing installation was never designed for visual aesthetics. My challenge was to isolate the elements I wanted, and present this confusing mess with the dignity and style of a SoHo gallery sculpture. Since this equipment covers so much floor space, I had to figure out a good way to include the whole subject in the frame. I could get everything with a 17mm lens on my full frame Canon 5D II, but I didn’t like the look. Instead, I used my 24mm tilt/shift lens, shot the subject twice with right then left shift, and merged the photographs in Photoshop. Through the postproduction tools of digital image processing, a lens with a 74° horizontal angle of view produced an image covering about 93°.