The Big Picture

Yesterday I participated in an exciting (and scary for an amateur like myself) photographic session at work. It was the final site-wide BBQ. The Nortel Photography Club was approached to get some pictures of the event, culminating in a group photo of all the remaining employees. After this, most will be going to different companies, although many are still being laid off (100 received notice yesterday).

I was assigned to take the official group photo. I was given access to the roof of the Service building (about 2-3 stories tall), under a number of work-place safety constraints (no closer than 2 meters from the roof edge). The only direction I was given was to include the iconic Tower of Lab 5.

I was very nervous. I really wanted to get a good shot. And this was the first time working with a large group. I did not want to hold the group there very long, so I thought through what I should do. First, I wanted to try with my 420EX flash with brand new batteries, cranked up to +2EV to push out the most amount of photons as a fill flash. I’m not sure how effective it was in the sunlight from 2 stories away, but I figured I only wanted to highlight all the faces, which are highly reflective anyways. Then, because I knew the flash would take time to recycle, I took other pictures knowing that the flash would not be ready, so they would be available light only. I tried wide and tall images.

The final one was to get everyone to cheer or raised their hands or shout or something. I wanted enthusiasm. I was not sure how I would accomplish that considering that the mood was still very sour because of the layoffs over the last decade. It’s been hard on people. And I didn’t know who in the crowd may have had layoff notices or were part of the company that has not been sold yet.

Then it hit me. A number of people had beers or other drinks from the cash bar. So when the time came for the final shot, I asked everyone with a beer or drink to raised their drinks. And that was the best shot. The group showed remarkable restraint that only one person flipped the bird when the shutter clicked.

Group photo at Nortel
Group photo at Nortel

The photo I took will be sent out in the ‘thank you’ email to all Ottawa employees this morning.

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