Station: fly me to the moon

  - Andrew Leong
— image credit: Andrew Leong

You can’t help but wonder what goes through a photographer’s mind coming up with fresh, cool shots.

Especially when a wicked replica photo of the E.T. movie poster ends up in your inbox, filed by photographer Andrew Leong for the January 2014 edition of Station magazine (hitting the streets this week).

We had to ask the long-time local photog why this shot and how?

“I saw a video on YouTube of a European photographer (with the help of two of his buddies), demonstrating how to attempt a shot similar to the E.T. poster without using photoshop,” Leong summed. “He had to scout out the location for his project ahead of time, making note the time the full moon rises above the hill, and calculating the distance from the bottom of the hill, where he was photographing from, to the top, where his two buddies prepare for the aerial ride.”

Leong’s always up for a challenge so it was an easy decision to pursue a similar shot.

“But knowing I’ll never find a similar setting and location in the Cowichan Valley, I did some brainstorming to find a way to produce an image that’s not related to a photoshop production,” he said.

Leong already had neat shots of full moons in his stock archives, but had to find a kid who could do aerial jumps and a location.

“After some thoughts, it dawned on me (to ask) our 2012 News Leader Pictorial youth athlete Mark Wallace (local International downhill mountain bike racer). At the same time, I approached Cowichan Theatre’s technical director Michael Schaefer and explained to him about my project and to use the theatre stage as my primary setting for the session.”

Safety and liability issues were handled swiftly before the big photo shoot.

“(Mark and I) went to the theatre stage, met with Mike, and Mark calculated the width of the stage for his jumps. Mark, with help from his dad, built a scaffold and a long ramp from home, tested a ride on it and sent a video for my approval.

“In the meantime, I rear-projected the full moon image onto a large white screen (from the back of the theatre), and got a proper exposure reading of the moon before the actual jumps.

“Then I photographed the jumps by Mark (about six tries) in pitch dark to get that silhouette effect by the moon.”

Leong’s shutter speed was set at 500 of a second to freeze the action in mid-air.

The scaffold and ramp set up took the boys about 45 minutes. The photography itself only took about 15 minutes.

“So the session took less than an hour to complete,” Leong said.

It's just one of the many reasons to pick up Cowichan's premier lifestyles magazine, Station, delivered to select homes and Cowichan outlets later this week.

Look for it featuring a cover story on Cowichan Bay's world-class artist Arthur Vickers.

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