Questions for architectural photographers

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Antithesis, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So, I got this really cool summer internship shooting architectural photography for an architectural firm and I have a few questions. My main subjects are arts & crafts homes here in Portland.

    First: What's a good resource for lighting interiors? I've been reading my a** off trying to find this info out, but most of the books and info I've found has been regarding portraiture. I'm taking the strobist approach, as I'm on an Intern budget. So far, I'm semi pleased with my ability to light, but I'm still basically shooting in the dark as to how to properly approach it. I understand the basics of lighting, and I can get even light around a room, but I feel like I'm being too heavy handed in the wrong places.

    Second: When the sun is out, is it ok to use HDR to even out the exposure on an exterior shot? I'm worried that this may be considered "amateur". I'm not always responsible for scheduling my shoots, and I will often get stuck shooting at 2pm in bright sunlight. I also try to be as subtle with it as possible while maintaining a decent exposure (i.e. no cartoony/gimicky junk)

    Third: How much perspective distortion is considered OK? I have a terrible habit of shooting to wide and too close. It's a nasty habit picked up while shooting weddings and it really screws up my ability to crop when I adjust the perspective. From what I gather from looking at others work, I should just focus on vertical lines, correct?

    And here are a few of my pics from one of my first shoots, if anyone feels like commenting or critiquing. They are under copyright from my employer.

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    Thanks!
     
  2. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    This type of photography was always performed on large format for best results, at the very least I'd consider a TS lens, I once picked a large church for interior shots while at college, used fotofloods hidden in pews had flashguns chucking light into corners/cubbyholes etc, BW film on a horseman 5x4 and though where I could meter the light was even I still had a lot of dodging/burning on portions of the ceiling and around windows. The tutor informed me later that the church I picked is an absolute nightmare for photography but due to the deadline I wasn't allowed an easier location. H
     
  3. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    First I would use srgb on those that are going out to the net. The embedded Adobe RGB resulted in darker photos with less contrast on my screen which is a properly set-up CRT for photos.

    Next you need to control exposure and detail in shadow areas on those bright sunny days when you shoot. Shoot at the smallest aperture f16 to f22 for greatest depth of field and then use the Viveza plug-in to enhance and improve detail and colour in shadow areas.

    As to indoor lighting, some like strobes. With my television background, I often prefer diffuse video lights used from a distance. They can be fast and easy to set up.

    A little tone mapping and stitched panoramas would also be worthwhile experiments to get the best out of wooden materials and large rooms.

    skieur
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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  5. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Good call on sRGB for web files. I'll need to discuss that with my boss.

    In terms of shadow details, everything that gets shot in harsh sunlight gets bracketed and run through Photomatix on the "mildest" settings I can run while still getting the benefits of HDR. I feel like I'm still getting haloing and things like that, so I might try using "Enfuse" in Lightroom, because it produces very natural looking HDRs and would speed my workflow up tremendously. It takes about 30 seconds to compile a usable HDR, where Photomatix takes 3-5 per.

    My biggest issue right now is the use of lights. I can light a scene well enough, in concert with natural light, but I'm having trouble getting much additional "pop" through the use of lights without it looking artificial.
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Here is a link to an excellent article about lighting rooms:

    Photography For Real Estate Interior Lighting With Multiple Strobes: By Scott Hargis

    I'm just learning lighting myself, but I do know a few things. You need a couple of strobes set on manual, then you basically just experiment. I find that using an umbrella has helped me a great deal.

    I've done HDR as well; the key is to use restraint. Reel in your impulse to make everything glowy and shiny.

    As for you images, the horizontal dining room shot would have been a good candidate for HDR; the rear windows are blown out while the darker corners are too dark. Composition-wise, it is usually considered preferable to include just two - not three - walls in the composition. this avoids the so-called 'bowling alley' effect.

    I steer clear of vertical orientation in real estate photography; it rarely works.

    The exteriors suffer from perspective. You get so much more dimension and depth of you can raise the camera even ten feet or so; try standing on a ladder one time and you'll see a remarkable improvement.

    With regard to perspective distortion, I have problems with that myself. I use a Sigma 10-20, and I have to force myself to stay away from the widest angle; I try to stay 14-16-ish. Verticals can get horrible distorted, but can be repaired - up to a point - using PTLens or, now, in Lightroom 3. Your verticals look pretty good.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yeah, I'm working with 2-3 strobes and umbrellas, just trying to fill. Do you generally just go for fill? Or do you try and add some drama? I found that article, and it was a good "primer", but didn't go that much farther into it.

    I am starting to use a bit more restraint with the wide angle, as distortion is really killing me. On one of my recent shoots, I brought a pretty large step-ladder, and the shots from the ladder definitely look a lot more unique, and I will be using it from now on for exteriors.

    As far as HDR goes, I like Photomatix for the most part, except it tends give it a dream-like feel, even when pretty restrained. I've been shooting for almost four years now in a multitude of environments, so I certainly can tell when my images are feeling too processed.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for an HDR rendering program that yields some milder results? I want vastly extended dynamic range (preferably the 13-14 stops the human eye can see), without the unreality that Photomatix can add to images.
     

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