Photographing portraits in the London Underground: Chris Gale lights it up with an 80MP Phase One back


posted Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 4:46 PM EDT


Last week, we featured a difficult shoot in England, where Drew Gardner had to photograph a fox and a nude model in a winter forest amidst some terribly inclement conditions (even by England's standards). Now, here's a shoot that sounds nearly as challenging: photographing portraits in the pitch black of the London Underground.

That's what photographer Chris Gale was up to recently, while shooting with a Phase One 645DF+ medium format camera and an 80-megapixel IQ180 digital back. Gale was able to get access to the unused Aldwych tube station, which had been closed since the mid-1990s. There were a number of challenges he had to meet to create the striking image you see here.


"There is no main power down there," Gale says in the below, behind-the-scenes video. "We'll be working in almost pitch black conditions and we only have three hours to get the shot we need. I'm shooting over a comparatively large area so I need to ensure that I can reliably trigger the flash. There are no second chances to get this shot so I can't have any problems with my camera system, software or lighting."

Gale used six Profoto battery generators with a Profoto Air Sync on the hotshoe of the 645DF+ to trigger the lights.

"It's pitch black down here so we'll be working by torch light and occasionally using a model light from the flash heads to see what we're doing," he says. "I'm lighting the model with a single flash head with a beauty dish that has a honeycomb grid. The flash heads that light the tunnel are using magnum reflectors. I've put one lamp head around 4 meters behind the model and then used the other 7 lamps in roughly 15 meter intervals to ensure the tunnel is properly lit as far as the eye can see."

See how he pulled it off in the video below.

(Via ISO 1200)