A Day in the Life – On assignment with a High Level Photographer (Part 2)

Time to venture inside.

From our experience we find that apart from the ever unpredictable UK weather, internals can be the most problematic and time consuming element of our job. Often the photographer reports on site as pre-arranged by our client only to find the relevant contact is not available or doesn’t know anything about our visit. Generally, this can be ironed out with a couple of phone calls but is has been known for us to come away unable to secure internal images.

On this particular site all the units are expecting me and I have no problems which is great as they are all spanking new stores and provide really good subject matter.

Clients’ require interesting internal images to demonstrate the shape and size of the property and lots of activity going on. The latter can be quite problematic as people are naturally curious/suspicious of a strange person with a large camera lurking around the shop floor.

Invariably when it comes to post production there are always one or two images ‘ruined’ by a customer glaring at the camera from behind a rack of clothes or the frozen food section!

Internal image of a Primark store

Internal image of a Mothercare store

Internal image of a Primark store

An internal shot of the new Aldi supermarket in Greenwich

Up, Up and Away

Having fought my way around the hordes of people in Primark the internals are now complete. Time to venture outside to secure the elevated mast photos. As mentioned previously I have identified three different spots where I can position the mast vehicle. Some are on private land and we always make a point of knocking on the doors of the business and residence to ask if we can pop our mast up from their car park or driveway.

Our mast extends up to 25 metres (roughly equivalent to a seven storey building) and has a radio controlled remotely operated head into which an expensive Canon digital SLR camera is fitted. A live feed from the camera to a small screen enables the photographer to frame the image.


It also has zoom capability, rotates 360 degrees and pans and tilts. Today is extremely windy and the mast oscillates as it rises into the air. Fortunately, we can level out the head to compensate for the swaying motion and of course have the luxury to straighten the images if necessary in post-production.

As the mast rises upwards I snap away and am happy that the car park looks busy. It has been known to photograph a retail park devoid of any cars in the car park which can be overcome at ground level using clever angles and a long lens, however the elevated shots give the game away with sparsely populated car parks.

Each mast set-up takes around 15 minutes to complete, so before long the mast is stowed and I am now waiting around for the sun to set.

An elevated mast shot showing a busy car park andthe whole retail park

After Dark

It is not often that High Level are asked to provide dusk shots, but personally, I think night shots can really enhance some properties and can help to hide some of the more unsightly pieces of local architecture such as pylons or the neighbouring sewerage farm!

Shooting after dark on the ground is also quite fun as we use a tripod and longer shutter speed to capture light streaks of passing vehicles. Its only when the image appears on the camera that you see how well the effect has come out.

Shooting elevated images from the mast can be a little more problematic. Although it is possible to adjust the camera settings using and iPhone we tend to set the camera before sending it skywards on the mast. This is all very well in benign windless conditions however it is blowing a hooley tonight which means taking extra care with the camera setting to negate the oscillating mast movements.

As thought, this site looked great at night as the Canary Wharf skyline can be seen in the distance.


Job done and satisfied with the results – the mast is stowed and I head home stopping briefly to get some library shots of Canary Wharf from across the Thames.

Ground External Image of the new Next store in Greenwich


A ground external taken of the new retail development at night, with light trails flooding across the image

Ground External Image taken at night of the new Next store in Greenwich

The Final Step

To complete the assignment, I then have to select and process the images back in the editing suite at Fairoaks.

Depending on the number of images taken this process takes a couple of hours. Once complete the final masterpieces are uploaded onto the High Level website and the client is contacted with a link and password from where they can view and download the high resolution images.

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