Tough Conditions Demand Mining Photo Perfection

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Image by Kevin Palmer
Image by Kevin Palmer

Image by Kevin Palmer
Image by Kevin Palmer

THUNDER BAY- Its was a snowy day in Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada when Lead Creative Kevin Palmer of the Palmer Group headed out to the Rockex Mining Corporation mechanical shop to shoot imagery for their upcoming booth at the PDAC in Toronto – the world’s largest congregation of the mining community.

The entire 20 strobe studio was carefully packed into the travel cases and loaded into the trucks at the Big Onion Studios, Palmer’s studio in the City of Thunder Bay.

“We need to really create impact for Rockex on this one” quipped Palmer as he and assistant Eric Bozec loaded the vehicles en route to the shoot about 9 miles away. The client, Rockex Mining Corporation, is a Northwestern Ontario Mining Company that has just completed a positive pre-economic assessment on a 4 million ton/year HBI (Hot Briquette Iron) plant.

The team arrived at the Rockex shop around 1pm and quickly begins the process of setting up this multi-strobe shot. “We unpack the stands, lighting, modifiers, power cords and get to work creating a scene that will attract the attention of what could be upwards of 30,000 participants in this years PDAC show, it’s very big.”

Palmer continued to unpack and setup strobes as we discuss how this shoot will be completed, “We’re going to have this massive drill housing that is in for modifications as the main feature, Pierre Gagne – Chairman of the Board of Rockex, has requested that the background of the scene be this giant backhoe – a piece of equipment which is used in the preparation of various mine sites and exploration zones in conjunction with other equipment”

“Kevin’s ability to marry the marketing expertise of his group along with his skill in sharp, colorful and arresting images under sometimes difficult conditions makes him uniquely valuable to any company in the mining industry” said Pierre Gagne when querried about the Palmer Creative Group.

The work of measuring the lighting to precise power outputs begins, as the flash meter was used to evenly balance the various lighting tones, shadows and highlights – this measuring, along with the packing and unpacking has already eaten up 2 hours of the day, but this is the part that requires meticulous attention to detail and every single step missed could cause the image to fail to attract greater investor confidence in the Rockex Mining Corporation presentation.

As the measuring was completed, assistant Eric Bozec stood in to mimic the approximate placement of this scene’s main star, welder Gary Grenier. Test shooting completed, Gary then moved into place – along with a full complement of welding apparatus.

The shoot began as a countdown was repeatedly announced by Palmer as Grenier made the necessary modifications to the drill. Several dozen attempts were made, each one with the slightest nuance alteration – each designed to create perfection where possible. Unsatisfied with the lackluster initial results, Palmer changed the game plan and reverted to a combination shoot – dragging the shutter at varying lengths to maximize the pickup of fire-balls emenating from the arc welder.

Following some more tweaks, changes and careful examination of the viewfinder – Palmer announced the completion of the shoot – some 4.5 hours after it began! The crew was tired, the welder had gone through more than a dozen new rods – and the image, stellar. This will be a perfect complement to the aerial shots of the Iron Ore Dock taken the day before from a helicopter of the future loading site of Rockex Mining Corporation’s HBI (Hot Briquette Iron) in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Aerial View of the Rockex Ordeo in Thunder Bay Harbour
Aerial View of the Rockex Ordeo in Thunder Bay Harbour – Image by Kevin Palmer

Pierre Gagne stated, “Kevin tackled the problem of photographing just a section of one of our huge vertical drilling machines while also capturing master welder Gary Grenier at work on the modifications to the machine, it’s just excellent!”