A few months back I happened to be returning from photographing real estate in Portland, and when I was driving up the Harbor Bridge, I saw this huge, beautiful vessel that was moored alongside the Solomon Ortiz Center in Port Corpus Christi. I immediately recognized that the ship was a heavy lift vessel by its appearance, and noticed that some welders were affixing several mooring points to the ship’s deck. I was curious as to the project and was immediately interested in doing another industrial time-lapse project with whatever OHT’s Albatross was going to be loading, so I contacted the stateside rep for OHT with a proposal.
Little did I know that they, too, happened to be looking for an industrial and marine photographer to capture the Albatross’s exit of Corpus Christi Bay to the Gulf of Mexico carrying not one, but two ADES jack-up rigs. We discussed the project, planned the exit strategy, basic timeline and I started on my first proposal for marine photography – something that definitely on my radar in the future. Since I’m not one to say no to any project, I had a little over 2 days from our conversation until the planned departure from Kiewit Offshore Services in Ingleside and I still needed to rent the equipment I felt I needed as well as source a pilot and aircraft to follow the Albatross.
The gear rental was tackled first because I had a pretty good idea of what I needed and knew that LensRentals could take care of me.
Of course, this was going to be my first trip in a small aircraft, I had limited space for gear, and knew I wanted to get the most detail that I could. My plan was to rent a Canon 5Ds to shoot full raw (50MP frames) with my 16-35/4L and a rented 100-400/4.5-5.6L – I would make it work with one body while swapping lenses when needed. I also decided to invest in a good polarizer to fit the 100-400/4.5-5.6L to help cut glare from the water surface whenever possible. Rental equipment, done. Now I needed to obtain wings. After calling around, I found out there weren’t too many options – one plane in Port Aransas, a plane in Robstown, and a chance there was a plane returning from maintenance in Ingleside. After chatting back and forth, I decided I’d fly with the AirCzar out of Robstown for this first industrial photography assignment. The waiting game began – keeping constant tabs with the ship representatives to keep everything lined up for departure.
When the day came to take to the skies to photograph the Albatross, we could not have had better weather – beautiful blue skies, green water, and mild winds. We took off in a Cessna from Robstown and made our way northeast and began the process of flying around in gentle circles getting some establishing shots from a good distance. As the Albatross made it’s way by Ingleside on the Bay and over towards Aransas Pass, we began to do some hard banked turns allowing me to get some shots looking straight down at the water and deck. After making the turn and heading from Aransas Pass towards Port Aransas, we did several low passes alongside the Albatross. We continued making gentle circles as the OHT Albatross made it’s way out the Corpus Christi Ship Channel towards the Gulf of Mexico. With a rocking of our aircraft’s wings and a short burst from the Albatross’s horn, we said our goodbyes and went separate ways.
All of the shots were brought into Lightroom for cataloging and culling; then bulk and individually color and exposure adjusted before sending off a proofing set to the client. After the client made their choices, additional in-depth edits were completed.