Photos from a phone take off at HeathrowPrepare to be stunned if you are visiting Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport before next summer - and I'm not just talking about the beauty of the building itself, but of the huge panoramic prints you will see inside. Tasked by photographer Henry Reichhold to print and install his experimental mobile phone pictures in an enormous 3.5 x 50m exhibition space, Skyline Whitespace has delivered a true large-format photographic spectacle.
The images currently on display form the first of a two-part exhibition: 'Connected Worlds' opened on 3 December and runs until mid-January when 'Nokia N86 8mp Explore' replaces it for another four to six months. Both bodies of work are testament to what can now be achieved with camera-phones, which is what Reichhold set out to show the world through this project.
"After first securing sponsorship from BAA, which gave me the opportunity to exhibit in this amazing space, I contacted Nokia about undertaking this experimental venture," says Reichhold, who then approached Skyline Whitespace, which he describes as "a fantastic partner for the project."
With a Nokia mobile phone in hand Reichhold set out in 2007 to explore the world. Visitors to Terminal 5 can see the outcome and vouch for themselves on the artistry and quality of the resulting images from nine cites across five different continents: London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Cape Town, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and Venice.
The 'Connected Worlds' exhibition comprises a total of 16 panoramic images - largest being about nine meters long. To produce these images Reichhold stitched together shots to create the final panoramas. The amount of images used to create each exhibition image varied enormously, with some requiring only 20 or so, but the Venice picture for instance, is a combination of over 200+ images.
"The stitching of the shots was roughly put together using Photoshop and RealViz Stitcher, but most of the work had to be done manually to get the right perspectives and effects," says Reichhold who, once this stage was completed, handed the files over to Skyline Whitespace to handle the large-format print output and exhibition installation.
Skyline Whitespace produced the prints in an a six day period, particularly impressive when you consider that the image files where received in the UK from Reichhold but that the print was undertaken by its US operation before the final fully stitched graphic was dispatched to the UK for the Whitespace team here to handle installation.
Reichhold's images were printed onto Truss Tension fabric panels using a Gandinnovations Jeti-3300 dye-sublimation printer that can print up to 120in wide fabric. The substrate used was Skyline's proprietary Performa fabric (which is manufactured exclusively for Skyline) which provides benefits like whiteness, stain resistance, saturated colours, and which has a fine surface to produce the sharp details required for jobs such as this.
To support the huge graphics at Terminal 5 Whitespace has used a collapsible Sky Truss structure onto which the prints have been hung via a clip system onto which the graphics' plasticized hem is held.
At the time of writing Reichhold was still in discussion with Skyline Whitespace as to whether the partnership would extend to the second part of the project. 'Nokia N86 8mp Explore' will consist of entirely new images shot in November of this year in Mumbai and Dubai with the Nokia N86 8mp phone.
"This explores two very different cities and the N86 8mp proved to be an ideal low profile tool for the back streets of Mumbai - and I managed not to drop one from any Dubai skyscrapers!" laughs Reichhold. "There will be large variety of images - both night and day - as I was keen to really see what the phone could do in all lighting conditions.
"When the Leica first came out its size made a new kind of photography possible and I think mobile imaging has created a similar sort opportunity - it's always with you and now has the image quality needed for users to 'seize the moment'.
It will be interesting how many PSPs seize the moment and take the opportunity to build partnerships with creatives as Skyline Whitespace has done to bring in more business from growing sectors.
Keep an eye out for a photo and fine art Special Report in the January/February issue of Image Reports Magazine