Occasionally photographers hear the comment, “Gee, you must have a good camera!” It’s certainly meant as a compliment but I thought that I’d show you a situation (one of many) where a good camera alone could not cut the mustard, and where the photographer’s knowledge and technique were essential in producing an acceptable result.
Recently I photographed Noosa’s fabulous Ricky’s Restaurant, which has the most beautiful outlook of any on the coast IMO. You walk in and can’t tear your eyes off the river glittering just beyond the equally sparkling table settings.
I set up the camera, dialed in an exposure that favoured the interior and made the first shot below. Hmmm… underwhelming. The windows are too bright and the colours of the walls, door frames and floor are rather washed out. Now that’s a $3000 camera and lens and it still can’t always produce a photo that matches the human experience!
In the second shot that gob-smacking view is clearly seen. The tablecloths are bright and white and the glassware and cutlery sparkles. To do that I lit the woodwork and floor and each individual table with flash, then made a separate shot for the view. It ended up requiring parts of 8 shots to form the completed photo. Is it a misrepresentation? I believe that I merely compensated for the inadequacies of the camera and made an image which closely captures how I saw the restaurant when I walked in.
And which shot would prompt you to pick up the phone and make a booking? That reaction is what marketing photography should stimulate.
I recently had the opportunity to shoot some marketing photos for Noosa company “Classic Coffee Roasters”, whose visual signature is an awesome customised VW Kombi. We met up early one morning on the Noosa river. I wanted to light the van so that it would stand out from its background, and it was immediately apparent that the van’s interior, and Sam the barista, would also benefit from additional light. Although I had a studio flash on a stand providing a wash of light onto the van’s exterior, it wasn’t of any use for lighting the interior, as cranking up the flash’s power merely caused the coffee machine and the van’s pneumatic hood to cast hard shadows. Out came the trusty FOS (“flash-on-a-stick”). Armed with a wireless remote to fire the camera I was able to light various parts of the interior, and Sam, and then combine the lit parts of those photos to create a finished composite. And because Sam was the only object in the scene that moved, he could be placed into the interior in different poses. It’s a cool technique that can also be applied to any photos of interiors, with or without people, in a home, office, bar or restaurant.
Light Painting refers to a photographic technique where light is artificially added to a scene (and thus to the completed image) while the camera shutter remains open. Typically it might involve ‘painting’ parts of a scene with a flashlight, or writing your name against a dark sky with a glow-stick. I demonstrate the lighting of an exterior here , and that same technique can be used for interiors as shown below.
A handy thing to have while traveling is a small tripod or even a clamp that you can use to hold the camera steady in low light situations. eg the dim interior of a cathedral. When the shutter wants to stay open for several seconds in order to gather sufficient light, any tremor imparted by shaky hands will result in a blurry shot. I took this photo in a Moroccan garden a few years back, the camera atop a small flexible tripod balanced on a window sill. Luckily the only significant movement on this still evening was from the fountain, and its spouts have blurred into creamy trails. On the hillside, the house lights of Chefchaouen begin to come on…
Like the fine art of cat skinning, there is more than one way to photograph the front of a home. Each method produces results pretty much in line with the time invested; from a single ‘snap’ to a composite of multiple photos, each individually lit, taken over 30 minute window. Here is a short video that shows one way of capturing and processing such a photograph shot at twilight.
While photos for real estate tend to be bright, wide and informative about spatial relations, photos for the hospitality industry can be darker and tighter in order to convey mood. I shot this one with the latter in mind.
A rule of thumb when selling your home is to ‘declutter’ or to ‘depersonalise’ it so that potential owners can imagine making their own memories in their new place. So what to do when the clutter actually looks really cool!? Apart from the fact that moving this much stuff is way outside my job description, this scene is just downright appealing.
Tech note: Natural light apart from a flash fired from outside through the venetian blinds.