AmTrak needed to update their brochure about the Coast Starlight Route from Los Angeles Union Station to Seattle, Washington. They asked me to find ten models of various ages and ethnic backgrounds to take on the train with us.
I was given a enough of a budget to hire two assistants, and I really needed more. The two day shoot started at Union Station in Los Angeles, and they allowed me to use a room bigger than a football field to shoot anybody or anything I wanted for the day. This space has 50 foot ceilings with huge ceiling to floor stained glass windows. The floor is a polished marble with beautiful patterns and shapes in the stone. The space is rented out for movie productions at over $100,000 a day. Thank you AmTrak, I have some amazing pictures of three conductors in uniform, beautifully lit by the ceiling to floor windows.
Day two was spent on a moving train with the ten models traveling between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. If you have traveled on AmTrak, you know they have electric outlets next to each chair, with standard 110 volts plugs. So I am working four Profoto 1,000 watt second strobes, with 250 watt tungsten modeling lights. Two or three of the light heads have 3 foot by 4 foot softboxes on them. These four lights are on standard metal stands that can go up to 12 foot height.
So imagine you are in the dining car of the train having lunch, traveling at 60 miles an hour. Out the windows of the dining car is a view of the ocean with the beach 45 feet away. On the Starlight route between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the ocean is visible out the window for sixty percent of the trip. The dining car is packed with hungry travelers, ordering food and having it delivered to their tables. Then here I am with 10 models, two assistants, a client, 4 lights on 5-7 foot high stands and several with four foot across softboxes! My camera is on a tripod, to try to get the slowest shutter speed shot that I can. Waiters are tripping on my tripod and feet as they pass down the aisle about 2 feet wide. Yes, at 60 miles an hour on a swaying train, I got two glasses of wine and some mashed potatoes and gravy on my lovely new shirt. But look at the great pictures!