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Author Topic: Architectural / interior photography - best equipment?  (Read 26678 times)
Craig Lamson
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« Reply #140 on: March 21, 2013, 09:57:13 PM »
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I'm there to make my client's work look vastly superior to their competitors.  Welcome to commercial photography.

/rant off

Amen....Sometimes available light looks pretty bad and the product is in a dirty old factory...

...and then you need to style and light it.  With the goal being to fit the mood required by the AD and making the clients work look vastly superior to the competition...



« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 10:13:31 PM by Craig Lamson » Logged

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FredBGG
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« Reply #141 on: March 21, 2013, 11:43:01 PM »
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Amen....Sometimes available light looks pretty bad and the product is in a dirty old factory...

...and then you need to style and light it.  With the goal being to fit the mood required by the AD and making the clients work look vastly superior to the competition...





Was the art director happy with the fake woods. Doesn't look real at all.
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David Eichler
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« Reply #142 on: March 22, 2013, 01:50:40 AM »
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I think you guys are oversimplifying what lighting can be.  When I light a scene, we're not just filling the dark areas so that the camera sees like the eye.  We add character to bring out the richness of materials and depth of dimension that never exists under the ambient lighting.  We're backlighting glass to make it glow, reflecting light into stainless and metallic finishes to make them sparkle, raking light across textured materials to make them feel more tactile, pulling out the color and grain of wood that would normally sit there lifelessly.

No amount of dynamic range will ever yield results similar to what can be done with fastidious and sensitive lighting.  For 20 years my clients have been telling me that my photographs look better than the actual architecture.  To me that means I did my job.  I'm not a journalist.  I'm not there to document the compromises that we're made during construction.  I'm there to make my client's work look vastly superior to their competitors.  Welcome to commercial photography.

/rant off


I was not only referring to dynamic range, but the quality of the ambient lighting, and I did not mean to imply that lighting such as you describe could not be highly creative and effective. I think your comment illustrates the point very well that the ambient lighting in a large majority of interiors is far from ideal if one is seeking very compelling results. And, if that is the case for the kind of stuff you typically seem to shoot, then that it is even more the case for more routine subject matter, or for more traditional architectural styles that make less use of high quality ambient lighting. However, as in the example I cited above, there are some architectural photographers working at a very high level who seem to be able to get by without any lighting and use extensive Photoshop retouching; but I suspect that they have to be more selective about what subject matter they choose to photograph. And, in the case of Scott Frances at least, subtractive lighting is another option, though it does not necessarily require expensive equipment.

All I am saying is that, when I can get it, my preference is for great ambient lighting when I can get it, not because it is easier, but because I like the way it looks and it because it is not possible to duplicate with any amount of supplementary lighting. Also, great ambient lighting, while it might make shooting and processing easier, can still require a lot of planning and waiting around, so it isn't necessarily easier.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 12:40:12 PM by David Eichler » Logged

stefan marquardt
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« Reply #143 on: March 22, 2013, 02:24:50 AM »
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Yesterday I got an interesting phone call from a big building company I work for before. The contracted me for an new book-project. He explained to me that (having my pictures from last year in mind as well as my images on my website) they now rather want images that are not so perfect/optimised. no perfect blue sky (something that is out of favour in germany since a while). No retouching of the surrounding grounds... . He said, they donīt want Images that look so perfect - he sometimes doesnīt know if he looking at a rendering or a real picture. they want picture more in this style (pictures quickly picked from my website):
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 03:47:03 AM by stefan marquardt » Logged

stefan marquardt
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yaya
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« Reply #144 on: March 22, 2013, 03:01:57 AM »
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Some nice work on your site Stefan!

BTW I'll be in Frankfurt next month (12/4) for the PCP event...maybe you can come by to say hello?

BR, yair

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Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Mamiya Leaf |
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FredBGG
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« Reply #145 on: March 22, 2013, 03:25:49 AM »
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Yesterday I got an interesting phone call from a big building company I work for before. The contracted me for an new book-project. He explained to me that (having my pictures from last year in mind as well as my images on my website) they now rather want images that are not so perfect/optimised. no perfect blue sky (something that is out of favour in germany since a while). No retouching of the surrounding grounds... . He said, they donīt want Images that look so perfect - he sometimes doesnīt know if he looking at a rendering or a real picture. they want picture more in this style:


That is a very interesting point. So much work is so over processed and retouched that it totally loses that special touch of photography.
More and more smart clients are realizing this. it's happening more in Europe and the US is a little slower to follow, but this is the land of cosmetic plastic surgery.
personally I dislike so much of that fake looking skin in portraits and fashion. "Working files deep" and ending up with fake people and skin tones that would have a doctor worried.
Imperfection is character and there is no substantial beauty without character.
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stefan marquardt
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« Reply #146 on: March 22, 2013, 03:42:35 AM »
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Some nice work on your site Stefan!
BR, yair

thanks yair - you will be please to hear that the 2 of the 3 photos posted where shoot with my mamiya. for some reason, when clients request (raw looking images with an edge) I often pic the mamiya over the 5d2. the canon images look by default optimised.
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stefan marquardt
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architecture & interior photography
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MrSmith
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« Reply #147 on: March 22, 2013, 05:03:11 AM »
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Not wishing to be churlish but what's with the HDR Flickr look in the Dresden pic? It's not straight either is that intentional? Or is that the kind of 'natural' the client is after.
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stefan marquardt
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« Reply #148 on: March 22, 2013, 05:38:24 AM »
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actually I have never ever used HDR in my life since I donīt like it.
this picture has nearly no postprocessing done to it. I never use anything further than LR - just darken the sky a bit when itīs to bright - or here for effect. I was taking pictures in near sunny weather when suddenly the sky turned like this! (I must admit, I have never seen dark clouds like this before or after).


Not wishing to be churlish but what's with the HDR Flickr look in the Dresden pic? It's not straight either is that intentional? Or is that the kind of 'natural' the client is after.
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stefan marquardt
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #149 on: March 22, 2013, 07:12:57 AM »
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There are two things I find interesting about this whole conversation.  First, if we shot food, or fashion, or product, the idea of not using good light would be laughable and the images produced without it would not be up to par.  But being we are architectural photographers, we are allowed to use bad light?  I just don't get this philosophy.  

Secondly, if you do not want to create additional space by using light, or add texture to materials, or make shinny surfaces come to life, that's great.  But do you want to render color correctly?  I posted an image last night but took it down because I did not feel like explaining it at the time; I posted it again below.  This graph shows the amount of visible light present in common light sources.  Notice how tungsten and sunlight (and strobes which are not on there but mirror sunlight closely) have all of the visible spectrum.  Yes, some colors are stronger than others, but with filters or software we can remove the excess and render color correct.  Now look at mercury vapor, the most common fluorescent lighting by far.  It must be missing at least 60% of the spectrum; this will greatly effect you ability to render color correct.  This, I feel, just can not be ignored, and to tell students of photography that lighting is not needed without explaining this is doing them a great disservice.  
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 07:27:43 AM by JoeKitchen » Logged

Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
“Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”  William Faulkner
Craig Lamson
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« Reply #150 on: March 22, 2013, 07:25:26 AM »
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Was the art director happy with the fake woods. Doesn't look real at all.

Ah or course Fred checks in.

Everyone was very pleased.  Nothing "fake" here at all.  Well except for the plastic wood trim over the slideouts, and the laminate on the cabinet sides, and the veneer used elsewhere.  Its an RV Fred.

But by all means Fred please tell us how to do it better. I shoot a hundred of these things a year, your input on how to imporove would be valuable.  Even better how about a link to your work?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 07:45:31 AM by Craig Lamson » Logged

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kers
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« Reply #151 on: March 22, 2013, 07:30:51 AM »
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actually I have never ever used HDR in my life since I donīt like it.
this picture has nearly no postprocessing done to it. I never use anything further than LR - just darken the sky a bit when itīs to bright - or here for effect. I was taking pictures in near sunny weather when suddenly the sky turned like this! (I must admit, I have never seen dark clouds like this before or after).

So itis  interesting to see;  it is not about if it is real or not, but if it looks real...
I agree it lookes like HDR - and even if it is real i do not like it...because of that...
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Pieter Kers
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stefan marquardt
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« Reply #152 on: March 22, 2013, 01:44:12 PM »
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i do not like it...because of that...

kers, I honestly hope you are not offended if I couldnīt care less.
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stefan marquardt
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FredBGG
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« Reply #153 on: March 22, 2013, 02:14:09 PM »
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Ah or course Fred checks in.

Everyone was very pleased.  Nothing "fake" here at all.  Well except for the plastic wood trim over the slideouts, and the laminate on the cabinet sides, and the veneer used elsewhere.  Its an RV Fred.

But by all means Fred please tell us how to do it better. I shoot a hundred of these things a year, your input on how to imporove would be valuable.  Even better how about a link to your work?

I'm talking about the compositing of the trees outside the windows. That's what I'm saying doesn't look very real.
You did a very nice job of making the internal space look larger and spacious. The additional lighting is just "casual enough" to not look rendered
resulting in a quite realistic look.

Regarding the windows and the internal lighting. You have a look of sunlight coming into the RV casting shadows on the floor,
cold highlights on the leather sofas and you have the woods and field outside light by warm sunset light.

Also the windows look like cut out holes more than glass. I nice trick to give the windows more of a real feel is to take a shot with dark black
outside the windows and using a screen mode composite to bring a bit of reflection and slight presence of glass back.

I think that a brighter outside scene outside would have blended netter with the interior lighting.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 02:19:43 PM by FredBGG » Logged
Craig Lamson
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« Reply #154 on: March 22, 2013, 04:53:29 PM »
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I'm talking about the compositing of the trees outside the windows. That's what I'm saying doesn't look very real.
You did a very nice job of making the internal space look larger and spacious. The additional lighting is just "casual enough" to not look rendered
resulting in a quite realistic look.

Regarding the windows and the internal lighting. You have a look of sunlight coming into the RV casting shadows on the floor,
cold highlights on the leather sofas and you have the woods and field outside light by warm sunset light.

Also the windows look like cut out holes more than glass. I nice trick to give the windows more of a real feel is to take a shot with dark black
outside the windows and using a screen mode composite to bring a bit of reflection and slight presence of glass back.

I think that a brighter outside scene outside would have blended netter with the interior lighting.

Fair enough.  However the windows are dark tint, nearly back.  The outdoor scene was reduced in both intensity and saturation to reflect this tint.  And I agree some reflections would be nice and it gets done sometimes if time permits.


The glass reflection this IS kind of interesting given the discussion of a natural reflection in  CB photo ....
BTW, how about that link to your work?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 05:00:31 PM by Craig Lamson » Logged

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kers
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« Reply #155 on: March 22, 2013, 06:31:32 PM »
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kers, I honestly hope you are not offended if I couldn´t care less.

No it was not meant personal at all - just about how we see things..

Sometimes reality seems more unreal than fiction...

a lot of documentaries show this as well as your sky...

In the same way I think FredBGG is right about the trees as is Graig Lamson saying it is real....but does not look too real...


« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 06:37:48 PM by kers » Logged

Pieter Kers
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FredBGG
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« Reply #156 on: March 22, 2013, 07:33:18 PM »
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Fair enough.  However the windows are dark tint, nearly back.  The outdoor scene was reduced in both intensity and saturation to reflect this tint.  And I agree some reflections would be nice and it gets done sometimes if time permits.


The glass reflection this IS kind of interesting given the discussion of a natural reflection in  CB photo ....
BTW, how about that link to your work?

Being dark windows in reality there would be some reflection and it takes just a little to add that natural look.
You can see some reflection in the shot that still has the factory behind the windows.
IF you don't have time at the shoot you can also fake something by using a mirror image of something in the camper.
Just blend in only some highlights.

Regarding my work it's quite different. Not interior design, however I have shot actors portraits on sets with fake windows and need to to composite
in some background. I also do visual effects for motion picture. I was VFX supervisor on a feature where we had to turn a stage performance from flood light to dark
and moody. The lighting system went wrong when they shot the scene. Months of work. Anyway we added follow spots and it was
all looking really quite good, but something was wrong. After putting it away for a few days and looking at it fresh it hit me.
There were not lens abberations on the spot projector and no dust in the path of the spot. There also were not any reflection on the dark stage floor as the fake spot
went by. After adding the reflections and a bit of crap in the air the spot passed through the director and the star of the movie loved the shot. It was the crucial closing shot of the movie
in Constitution Hall in Washington.
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Craig Lamson
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« Reply #157 on: March 23, 2013, 08:51:37 AM »
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No problem Ashley, and as a rule I prefer a more open, airy feel to my images, however the client wanted darker and "moody"  (whatever that means...I simply hate this 'direction')  And since I agree that I want to produce an image the client will want to use, I gave them what they asked for...kind of.

Quite frankly they would have liked it to be even darker.

And that's the rub. In this instance the initial client, the Ad agency had a vision  of deep and dark, very little fill, lots of almost black holes.  All well and good, and I've been working with this team for years.  On other side the sales people and the dealer base need images to sell from.  Quite often they won't have a floor plan or decor package for a perpendicular unit in stock so they sell from photos. These guys want to see every color, very detail, every fiber is possible.  They hate shadows.  Typically I'll hear that the shadow from the sofa on the floor is obscuring the carpet, even though there is fully illuminated carpet right next to the shadowed carpet.  So I'm stuck between two schools of thought and need.  And I'm not going to be able to produce two images to satisfy both.  So in this case I added just enough light to open up the shadows so they were not black holes.

Creative choices dictated by the clients needs.  As you often say there is over 100 ways to shoot any image.  

Sales guys and dealers love images that look like this..AD's not so much as a rule.  Finding a middle ground can be very tricky indeed.

Now to try and tie this back into the original topic.  Back when I still had a huge studio and they delivered the units to me for photography I used boatloads of tungsten to light these things.  I loved Moles and Peppers.  A couple of 2k's for sunlight, supported by 2k zips for open fill from the windows.  Lots of Peppers inside to accent, and a 420 or 1k ceiling bounce for fill.  A quick way to use up 200 amps of power...

Lighting was not an option, it was a need.  Tungsten..fresnels gave great control and the ability to detail light.  I love it but we could spend a full day on a single interior shot.

Then the RV business crashed hard.  Companies when out of business overnight.  I had to give up my 10,000 sq foot studio.  Rates plummeted.  So it was adjust or die, or find another niche. 

Now its all done on location at the factory.  They won't deliver units if they don't need to. You must work in a bay at the end of the assembly line.  You can't control the ambient.  You only have at most 2-3 20 amp circuits to draw power.  Often times its one and the power to the trailer.  So now its strobe and quite frankly I've never been a fan.  So I tend to shoot in segments and layer in post.  I just don't have the control of Tungsten nor the power to use it.  The upside is the clean color of strobe,

What are you using and why?

« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 09:43:39 AM by Craig Lamson » Logged

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« Reply #158 on: March 23, 2013, 09:22:20 AM »
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Ah or course Fred checks in.

Everyone was very pleased.  Nothing "fake" here at all.  Well except for the plastic wood trim over the slideouts, and the laminate on the cabinet sides, and the veneer used elsewhere.  Its an RV Fred.

But by all means Fred please tell us how to do it better. I shoot a hundred of these things a year, your input on how to imporove would be valuable.  Even better how about a link to your work?

Hi, looking at the images its obvious to me that its a VERY tough subject to shoot.

On your lighted image there are some very nasty shadows and the color temp of the flashes is a little too separated (in temperature) from the available lights. I would have gelled the flashes with about 1/4 CTO (maybe 1/2?), increased the ambient light exposure up a little bit so it mixes for with the flash (and filled in the shadows a bit) and turned on the fan so that the harsh shadow on the ceiling is smoothed a little bit.

Then in post try to adjust color and highlights/shadows to taste (which you obviously did to please your client) and maybe do a bit of dodging and burning here and there.

Regarding the styling I would have probably removed the basket near the window on the left, the bag in front of the coffee pot. Also, dunno about the carrots and the cloth on the foreground, look a little to unrealistic to me the way they are placed, maybe I wouldve used a cutting board as prop, dunno.

Composition wise its good (not much options there!) I might have tried to include the entire table in the foreground (maybe wider lens? or position the camera lower?) but dunno for sure.

Anyway, what matters is that the client is happy and just move on to the next job  Smiley

But thanks for posting, it shows how to make something out of nothing.
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MrSmith
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« Reply #159 on: March 23, 2013, 09:23:04 AM »
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unless you were there listening to the art director and watching the face they pull when you suggest something any critique is moot.
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