Monthly Archives: January 2011

Smoke & Mirrors

Well, mirrors, anyway.

I get asked about this photo more than any other, lately. It’s the lead photo in Chapter 10 of my book (“Advanced Reflections”), and it seems everyone wants to know how I did it.the answer, after the jump

And the answer is……[insert drum roll] ==== PHOTOSHOP!

In case you aren’t hep to the issue, what’s puzzling some folks is why you can’t see me or my camera or any lighting stuff in the wall-to-wall mirror I’m shooting into.

Well first of all, I didn’t use lights in the bathroom portion of this shot — it’s one exposure, all ambient light. I did have a light in the bedroom, which is what you’re seeing through the reflection of the doorway. And I’m not there because I used the self-timer mode on the camera while I stepped aside. And the camera is simply removed in post-processing, digitally.

There are a couple of ways to do this. One (and this is how I did our bath photo) is to use the Clone Stamp to replace the image of the camera with the appropriate colors and textures, borrowing from nearby parts of the photo. The secret to this is to position the camera in front of things you can easily re-build.  Let’s take a closer look at what I was working with, in this case:

Here’s  a larger crop from the original, RAW file. What you’re seeing is NOT an ideal situation. If I could have put the camera just a couple of inches to the right, I would have been able to retain the corner of the bedhead, and the edges of the pillows, all of which I had to re-construct freehand later on . It doesn’t help that the faucet handle is sticking up into where the camera strap shows, either.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do that — moving the camera to the right would have wrecked the composition, revealing too much shower, and leaving out too much tub. In retrospect, I could probably have moved the camera and shot a bit wider, planning to crop back in later…but….I didn’t think of that. And I don’t like to shoot that wide, either. This is already at 19mm, which is creating distortion that would only get worse with a shorter lens. Besides, while it was a bit of a pain in the ass to fix up the background, it wasn’t impossible.

Another way to deal with this, and my favorite, is to use a shift lens. A shift lens allows you to move the image circle left or right, up or down, by as much as 12mm, which translates into a huge transit in the field of view. I could have plunked the camera down almost anywhere, and shifted the field of view back to what I wanted.

So how come I didn’t do that? A) I didn’t own a shift lens when I made this photo, and B) I’m shooting at 19mm here, and Canon’s TS lens is 24mm. I know, I know, there are 1500 dudes out there shouting that they also make a 17mm TS, but I’m sorry, guys — 17mm is just too damn wide for interiors work. It just is.

The third method, one used regularly by my friend Dan Achatz, is to shoot the bath with camera, photographer, and anything else right there in the mirror, and then un-mount the camera, walk into the room, and take a photo back towards the tripod (move it out of the way, please) — a photo from the mirror’s perspective. You’ll want to make note of what exactly the field of view is in the reflection from your original camera position, and then replicate that FOV when you take the reverse angle, as best you can. Then you simply paste that shot into your original photo, and voilà — who can tell? You won’t have the exact angles all perfect, probably, but as long as you’re close, who the heck is going to care, much less be able to call you out on it?

Got a special technique of your own? Share it in the comments.

Smoke & Mirrors

Well, mirrors, anyway.

I get asked about this photo more than any other, lately. It’s the lead photo in Chapter 10 of my book (“Advanced Reflections”), and it seems everyone wants to know how I did it.the answer, after the jump

And the answer is……[insert drum roll] ==== PHOTOSHOP!

In case you aren’t hep to the issue, what’s puzzling some folks is why you can’t see me or my camera or any lighting stuff in the wall-to-wall mirror I’m shooting into.

Well first of all, I didn’t use lights in the bathroom portion of this shot — it’s one exposure, all ambient light. I did have a light in the bedroom, which is what you’re seeing through the reflection of the doorway. And I’m not there because I used the self-timer mode on the camera while I stepped aside. And the camera is simply removed in post-processing, digitally.

There are a couple of ways to do this. One (and this is how I did our bath photo) is to use the Clone Stamp to replace the image of the camera with the appropriate colors and textures, borrowing from nearby parts of the photo. The secret to this is to position the camera in front of things you can easily re-build.  Let’s take a closer look at what I was working with, in this case:

Here’s  a larger crop from the original, RAW file. What you’re seeing is NOT an ideal situation. If I could have put the camera just a couple of inches to the right, I would have been able to retain the corner of the bedhead, and the edges of the pillows, all of which I had to re-construct freehand later on . It doesn’t help that the faucet handle is sticking up into where the camera strap shows, either.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do that — moving the camera to the right would have wrecked the composition, revealing too much shower, and leaving out too much tub. In retrospect, I could probably have moved the camera and shot a bit wider, planning to crop back in later…but….I didn’t think of that. And I don’t like to shoot that wide, either. This is already at 19mm, which is creating distortion that would only get worse with a shorter lens. Besides, while it was a bit of a pain in the ass to fix up the background, it wasn’t impossible.

Another way to deal with this, and my favorite, is to use a shift lens. A shift lens allows you to move the image circle left or right, up or down, by as much as 12mm, which translates into a huge transit in the field of view. I could have plunked the camera down almost anywhere, and shifted the field of view back to what I wanted.

So how come I didn’t do that? A) I didn’t own a shift lens when I made this photo, and B) I’m shooting at 19mm here, and Canon’s TS lens is 24mm. I know, I know, there are 1500 dudes out there shouting that they also make a 17mm TS, but I’m sorry, guys — 17mm is just too damn wide for interiors work. It just is.

The third method, one used regularly by my friend Dan Achatz, is to shoot the bath with camera, photographer, and anything else right there in the mirror, and then un-mount the camera, walk into the room, and take a photo back towards the tripod (move it out of the way, please) — a photo from the mirror’s perspective. You’ll want to make note of what exactly the field of view is in the reflection from your original camera position, and then replicate that FOV when you take the reverse angle, as best you can. Then you simply paste that shot into your original photo, and voilà — who can tell? You won’t have the exact angles all perfect, probably, but as long as you’re close, who the heck is going to care, much less be able to call you out on it?

Got a special technique of your own? Share it in the comments.

Vancouver Workshops Are About to Sell Out

Be Quick.

iPhone Photo of the Day

Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

Interiors, Humans.

Above is an entire shoot I did earlier this month – every frame I made – in a very cool industrial loft conversion in West Oakland.

I shot the Cigar Factory Lofts (Saxland Development) in December, and they were first on my list when I was looking for a location to do some test shooting with models. With the big expansive floorplan, high ceilings, large windows, exposed brick and trusses — I knew things would look good. There’s a couple outtakes below, including an ambient-only shot for you with lighting fetishes.

In the video above, I’ve compressed a 3-hour shoot into about 2 minutes. It pauses briefly on the shots we felt worked. This was a fun project and I’m currently scouting locations for a follow-up….so stay tuned.

Announcing a Workshop in The Best Place On Earth

That would be British Columbia, for those of you who aren’t up on your Provincial slogans – and specifically in Vancouver. Also known as Terminal City, which sounds vaguely ominous….

Anyway, goofiness aside, I’m very much looking forward to teaching 3 days of workshops with Vancouver Photo Workshops in February. Those of you who wanted to come to Calgary, but got turned away — this is probably your best alternative.

There’ll be an evening seminar/slideshow (Saturday, 26 Feb), a “beginner’s” workshop (Sunday, 27 Feb) and two days of my ‘regular’ lighting workshops (Monday, 28 Feb, and Tuesday, 01 March).

EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNT

Well, that kinda says it all — VPW is offering a 25% $25 discount on the fee if you register before Feb 01. [edit: sorry about the typo, folks…it’s dollars, not percent!]

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The “beginner’s” workshop is geared towards folks who have little or no experience shooting interiors. There’s not much in the way of prerequisites other than a dSLR camera and an interest in shooting interior spaces. On this day we’ll go over the basics of interiors shooting, including exposure, composition, determining what to shoot and what to leave out, and  introduce you to using flash for interiors. This is a good workshop for real estate agents and photographers in the early stages of building skills and portfolio.

The “Intermediate to Advanced” workshops are my usual affair – both days are the same thing, so just pick the date that works best for you. We’ll be covering basic to advanced lighting setups, going into mind-numbing detail on exposure and flash behavior, and discussing composition, equipment, and workflow. Bring your gear, and your “A” game, because we’ll be pushing your comfort zone!

(Essential Guide to) Lighting Interiors on the Strobist Bookshelf

I’m honored this week to find that my book, The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors, is one of 9 books recommended by David Hobby, over on Strobist.com. (His “bookshelf” also features a couple of videos, and his own very worthwhile set of DVDs).

It’s humbling to be in that company. And I’m pretty sure McNally is out-selling me, but that’s OK.

You can listen to a 10-minute discussion of the book over on Mike Miriello’s blog, The Real Estate Photography Podcast. Please note that I recorded that interview about a day after I returned from Norway; so if I sound like a blithering idiot, it’s the jetlag. It’s the JETLAG!

Thanks to everyone who has sent their comments on the book – it’s very appreciated. Happy New Year — I think 2011 will see some awesome projects!

Slik (video tripod) Lightstands

I’ve been enthusiastically proselytizing about using small, lightweight, inexpensive video tripods as lightstands for interiors work for some time now. The ones I have I bought several years ago (a testament to how sturdy they are) are the Slik SVD-20, and they’ve been discontinued for quite some time.

Malia Campbell, over at TulipChain Photography, has found a great replacement – and she’s written it up, along with a quick description of a fantastic modification (thanks, Mike Yothers!) that allows you to attach an umbrella quickly and easily. If you’re shooting interiors, I highly recommend everything contained in this article.