Category Archives: Technique

Lighting Interiors – Second Edition…On It’s Way!

Coming to a PDF reader near you…

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I’ve been laboring all year (off and on) to bring an updated Lighting Interiors eBook to fruition, and I’m VERY happy to announce that at last I’ve finished writing! The entire book is undergoing a face-lift, updating the existing chapters, correcting mistakes, adding new chapters and new photos.

The text is in proofreading as we speak, and the new layout is well underway. With any luck, this will be “live” well in time for the holiday shopping season…

The book is sold as a subscription — meaning that if you’ve already purchased it, you’ll automatically get the update (if you can remember which fake email you used when you bought originally). You can get the original, first edition HERE — and again, you’ll automatically get the second edition the day it’s released, no charge.

While we’re on the topic, let’s not forget about the “Lighting For Real Estate Video Series” which makes a good companion to the book.

Doha Interiors Workshop with Katara.net

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Click for English

In mid-June, I spent a week in Doha, Qatar, teaching interiors with a fantastic group of Qataris, as well as a handful of expats from around the world. It was my first trip to Qatar, and I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect. The picture below pretty much sums it up:

IMG_3759 Full write-up, and LOTS of photos, after the jump!

Melbourne Workshop Recap

O2V_small-2Don’t Ask.

Every time I go to Australia, something weird happens, and it’s never my fault. This time, I got photographed while reclining in a shopping cart, in a back alley. That’s the cast of characters from my workshop, photo courtesy of Craig Purcell.

Last time, after lunching on grilled Kangaroo Skewers (which the Aussies don’t think is weird, at all) I was ruthlessly mocked by a pair of barmaids who mistook my pitch-perfect Aussie accent for something funny. And that was after a Tassie regaled the table about Ralph Fiennes getting banned from an airline for “shagging the Qantas Sheila in the WC!”  And the time before that, I was made to do the “Tim-Tam Slam” (which is actually really cool, in addition to being genuinely Aussie-Weird).

Anyway. Recently I was in Melbourne Australia as the guest of Open2View, the largest real-estate photography organization anywhere outside (possibly) Scandinavia. Every other year, O2V holds a National Conference with meetings workshops, and an awards dinner. And of course, lots of Fun. I believe I’m well on my way to honorary citizenship in both New Zealand and Tasmania.

I did some speaking, and a couple of lighting seminars, and then a full-day workshop at a pretty cool loft near the CBD. Below was our Ultimate Lighting Challenge shot from (near) the end of the day:

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And we shot another angle, as well:

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O2V photographers have a lot invested in their business; it’s a franchise operation so you have to buy in with a pretty significant stake. As a result, they’re generally VERY serious about their photography. I was pretty impressed! I didn’t get to hang out with nearly enough people, but the folks I did spend time with turned out to be very talented and experienced. And this always makes for a good workshop.

While at all the various dinners and drinks and gatherings, I was getting pretty much obsessed with iPhone photography, to the point that I killed the battery on my phone more than once.  Here’s a few of my faves:

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The bathroom floor at a Chinese Restaurant. You know you’re eating with a true architectural photographer when she returns from the bathroom and excitedly tells you how cool the floor was. And yes, I got up to go check it out. And it was cool!, so….I took a picture. Don’t judge me.

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This disco ball had me mesmerized for about three hours.

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O2V awards dinner on Saturday night.

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More disco ball….I have about 50 or 60 of these photos.

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There are rumours floating around about a New Zealand workshop….stay tuned….

Lighting For Real Estate Photography Updated Again

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Latest installment of “Le Monde Réel” went live this week — check it out at LightingForRealEstatePhotography.com!

Honestly, this was the one that I came very close to dropping from the series, because it just looked too damn hard. There’s no way that this shot doesn’t challenge even the most advanced lighting technician, but Sinead and I worked through it and came up with enough ideas to at least get something done. Lots of good stuff inside….if you’re a subscriber, let me know what you think of this one!

Le Monde Réel Marches On

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We’ve just gone live with the fourth new episode in the “Le Monde Réel” section of lightingforrealestatephotography.com.

We launched this section a few weeks ago, and new episodes are emerging from the editing process every week or ten days. Still two more to come! In them I conduct a live video chat with working photographers to discuss real-world “problem” photos they’ve sent me. We talk through the issues, propose solutions, I draw diagrams all over their lovely photos, and it’s a good time.

If you’re already a subscriber, head on over to LFRE.com and check ’em out – they’re pretty cool!

Le Monde Réel

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I’ve been working on a new set of videos to add on to the Lighting For Real Estate Photography series, and I’m happy to announce that we’re about to release the first one!

Last fall, I asked for submissions of “problem” images — photos that people found particularly challenging to compose and light. We got some great stuff, and out of those came the six new episodes we’re calling “Le Monde Reèl” (The Real World).

We’ll be releasing them one at a time, as they come out of the editing process. Look for the first one this Friday – April 5th! The rest will follow, about one every week or 10 days.

These are free-form discussions with the photographers themselves, in which we dissect the image, identify the challenges, and propose solutions to each specific problem. I think it’ll be a nice addition to the 22 episodes already up.

If you’re already a subscriber, you’ll be getting an email each time a new episode goes live. But I know half of you signed up with bogus emails, so I’ll be posting something here, too.  😉

Northern Lights

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Photo by Johan Hellstrom (www.studio054.se); light painting, with iPhone by Andre Nordblom (www.andrenordblom.se)

Yep, that’s me, freezing my butt off but having a fantastic time after-hours at one of the most fun workshops I’ve ever taught. This was after the big group dinner (roast local Moose, potatoes, trimmings, and lots of wine), just as I was thinking about bed. A bunch of Husfoto.se photographers decided this was a good time to go tramping off through the woods to do some astrophotography, and I tagged along. These guys (and gals) are talented, fun, and just plain weird.

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Full write-up, tons of photos, and a bonus video, after the jump!

I Talk Interiors With Frank Doorhof

My experience in Dubai last November was definitely enlivened by the presence of Frank Doorhof, the Dutch fashion photographer who was one  of my co-instructors at GPP FotoWeekend.

Frank is well-known from his many appearances at photography functions around the world as well as his Kelby Training and other online tutorials. He grabbed me one morning before my class started and we chatted for a few minutes. The video below is 75 minutes long and is a full-on documentary of Frank’s GPP experience — well worth watching but if you just want to see me gasping for words for 10 minutes or so, skip ahead to about the 14-minute mark.

Further on in the video are segments with Tony Corbell, Brook Shaden, and David Nightingale, all very much worth watching!

GPP, PDQ

I’m truly honored (and a bit awe-struck, actually) to have been invited back to Dubai for the annual GPP Photoweek 2013, which takes place March 1st through 8th. If you’re not familiar with this event, then I strongly urge you to hit the link and check it out — this is really a one-of-a-kind event.

I was thrilled to have taught 2 workshops with GPP in November (see student work, below), and we’ll be doing much of the same in March. Three workshops, two days each, covering basic-to-intermediate Interiors, and Advanced Interiors/Lifestyle. GPP does the best workshop production of anyone I’ve seen – my seminars in November were incredibly well-supported, and it really made a difference in the quality of the experience. PhotoWeek is their major annual event, and I’m completely stoked to be taking part in it. After my positive experience in November, I’m full of ideas for making the March workshops even better!

Given Dubai’s proximity to OZ, I think this is a no-brainer for Aussies, and it’s a pretty short flight from anywhere in Europe, too. And of course if you’re in the Gulf States or the Middle East overall…..be happy. This is in your back yard!

And don’t limit yourself to Interiors. The instructor list is as good as it gets, and on my day off I’m going to be hard-pressed to pick which of the other workshops I want to crash (we’re allowed to do that, which is an enormous perk. Hmmmmm…….). Again: these workshops are NOT fluff. GPP goes out of it’s way to ensure that the instructors are actually good at teaching, and that the material is worthwhile. There are very few opportunities to spend two or three days with the likes of Greg Heisler, Joe McNally, and David Hobby, not to mention Bobbi Lane, David Nightingale, Peter Hurley, Lindsay Adler, Zach Arias, Eduardo Angel, David Burnett, and John Keatley.

You can read a write-up of my GPP Photoweekend 2012 HERE. David Hobby’s excellent post about PhotoWeek 2013 is HERE. And below are a few student photos from November – these folks rocked it!

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GPP PhotoWeekend Wrap-Up

I spent the first week of November  teaching 4 days’ worth of workshops with Gulf Photo Plus, in Dubai (or, as one person I met calls it, “Du-bizzle”). I posted some behind-the-scenes shots a few days ago.

iPhone Burj Khalifa

Full write-up, more photos, including student photos, after the jump!

FStoppers Reviews Lighting For Real Estate Photography Video Series

 

Cool.

Mike Kelley (himself an accomplished interiors guy) reviewed my video series, Lighting For Real Estate Photography over at the always-fun blog FStoppers. Looks like we got a solid thumbs-up! Although Mike neglected to comment on my incredible on-camera poise and presence, and general good looks. I guess maybe he was just overwhelmed.

I hit FStoppers every day or so, for the great BTS vids they feature. And Mike (along with some of the other writers) keeps enough architectural/interiors material flowing through to make sure my attention doesn’t wander.

Read the review, HERE.

Find out details on the twenty-one now twenty-two part video series, HERE.

Live From GPP

I’m wrapping up a four-day set of workshops with the wonderful people at Gulf Photo Plus. We’ve shot two large show villas in Abu Dhabi, three hotel rooms in Dubai, and the Russian Tea Room at the Marina Byblos Hotel. Tomorrow: more Russian Tea Room shots, but with models posing as customers/waitstaff, as well as the Korean Karaoke Bar down the hall.

All photos by Tonya Colson,who’s been assisting me, keeping time, handing me a steady stream of water bottles, chauffuering me around Dubai, fetching coffee, and then reminding me of where I left my coffee, all week. In addition to her real duties as a photo assistant.

Full write-up and more photos after I get home and get some sleep.

Photo Assisting

Alan Vance lugs my camera Pelican (with maybe $15,000 of glass & cameras in it) up a ladder to the rooftop.

If you work with me on location, there’s pretty much a constant refrain of me shouting, “Alan!”

“Alan, can I get my 1.4x extender?”   “Alan, I need the power cable for the laptop.”   “Alan, can we get a head with an umbrella out that window, and then flag it so the reflection doesn’t show in the glass tile behind the stove?”

A good Photo Assistant (“PA”) can absolutely make or break a shoot, so today we’re going to hear from mine: Alan Vance. I get emails every week from people offering to assist me for free, but they don’t always realize just what a skilled position they’re asking for. Carrying gear around is only a tiny, tiny piece of the puzzle. A good PA can work very closely with the photographer, and handle complex technical tasks with a huge variety of equipment.

You wanna be a photo assistant? You’d better be intimately familiar with equipment from Broncolor, Elinchrom, ProPhoto, Dynalite, Arri, Lowell, Photek, Matthews, Manfrotto, Arca, Westcott, Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad, Phase One, Lee, and more. You’d better be able to troubleshoot Capture One, Lightroom, or Canon Digital  Photo Pro. You’d better be able to use a light meter – preferably your own. You’d better know how to assemble any model of softbox, and in a hurry. You’d better know what I mean when I say, “Get two Inkies with baby plates and light this to f/13, and gel them with a half cut of minus green. Then get a head with a shoot-through and put it down at the end of that hallway. Have some CTO ready for that one. Might have to flag it off the ceiling. And we’re going to put some SB-80s over the valence, there. See that little shadow? I want you to kill it.” And then make it all happen. Yeah, it’s a big job, and not just anyone can do it.

Read Alan’s article, and see tons of BTS photos, click here!

Notes From Norway

Photo courtesy of Kari-Janne Brekke

Towards the end of August, I was invited by Inviso Foto to teach 3 days’ worth of lighting workshops in beautiful, wonderful, Oslo Norway. I’ve been to Norway once before, in winter, and I jumped at the chance to go back and experience it in summer!

Scandanavia seems to be a bit “off the radar” in real estate photography circles, but it shouldn’t be. The market is quite well developed, and there are a lot of photographers doing some pretty stellar work up there.

We had a really great 3 days of shooting! My friend Roar Vestad scored us a perfect workshop house — plenty of rooms, and with a range of difficulty spanning “easy” to “damned hard”.  Here’s a few more BTS photos, all taken by Inviso’s Photo Manager, Kari-Janne Brekke. Thanks, Kaja!

And, here are a few of the “beauty shots” we set up over the course of three days! True to my PFRE creed of minimal post-processing, these photos have seen only “RAW” adjustments in Lightroom, and not much of that.

If you’re looking for real estate photography technique — check out my video series: www.lightingforrealestatephotography.com

 

Workshop: Gulf Photo Plus

I’ll be teaching 4 days of workshops at the Gulf Photo Plus ‘PhotoWeekend 2012’ event November 7th – 10th, in Internet City, Dubai, UAE.

It happens to be conveniently located midway between Oz and Europe, for what it’s worth…and I know there are a few folks who read my blog from countries in and around the Arabian Peninsula, so hopefully this is of interest to someone!

We’re scheduled for 2 days of “Intermediate”,  which will be a variation on my usual Real Estate Photography workshop, with a little extra thrown in. Then there’s a 2-day course that is more in-depth, and throws a little lifestyle photography in, just for fun.

A word of warning: I’m going to be working the Advanced class pretty hard. We’ll be shooting long hours, and hitting twilight exteriors, too. And you’ll be up late doing post-production on your images so they’re ready for the group critique. The way I look at it, if I’m gonna fly 15 friggin’ hours to be there, we’re gonna get some work done. Heh.

GPP has never done an interiors/arch workshop before, so this is kind of a test case, to see how much interest there is. Hopefully there are a few Emiratis who are interested in something other than the usual skinny-babe-in-stripper-heels workshops. Although to be fair, my fellow instructors at this event are pretty amazing. Certainly David Nightingale and Brooke Shaden do NOT shoot clichès!

Hit any of the links above for more info.

نراكم هناك

 

 

Embrace The Dark Side

The image above prompted more than a few questions (some in the comments) about how I controlled the reflection of the tub in the glass door of the shower stall. So here’s the scoop on what was going on in this shot.

Unfortunately, I was working fast, so I don’t have much in the way of BTS or setup shots. But follow along with me and I’ll describe things as best I can. /full write-up after the jump!

Kitchen Remodel by Custom Kitchens, and Bentwood

It’s always a good day when Jerry Wilkins of Custom Kitchens calls me up. I first heard about this project last fall, while I was in Phoenix having lunch with a photographer friend of mine. Jerry called me to tell me that they had won Grand Prize, All Categories in the Norcal Remmies (with my photos!) And he mentioned a massive kitchen remodel that they were doing over the winter. more photos, and some technique, after the jump!

Master Bath by Custom Kitchens

A few weeks ago I was in Alameda, California, shooting a small project with Joy Wilkins of Custom Kitchens. A remodeled master bath, along with a second bathroom, and a fireplace with an adjoining built-in desk, kept us busy for several hours. Some of you will remember the orchids, above, from this post.

…and the Winners are…..

You people are insane.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of of the launch of our Lighting For Real Estate Photography video series, photographer Malia  Campbell and I decided to hold a contest to give away 5 free subscriptions to the series. We figured there must be 5 photographers out there who were worthy, and this would be a good way to find them, and have a good time.

The results are, well…..a hoot. Without further ado, here’s the winning roster, in no particular order: See the winners, and watch the videos, after the jump!

Lighting For Real Estate Photography – Video Launch!

Well —- we’re live!

Click the image above to go to the video website. They’re ready to play! A number of things conspired to move our launch date up from March 1st (which was seriously sandbagging anyway) to TODAY, including a pretty kick-ass web design group that came in way ahead of schedule.

So, without further ado — we’re launching. Registration is $175, gets you unlimited streaming access to all 21 videos (about 3 hours’ worth). Here’s the table of contents:

  • Start Here
  • Fundamentals
  • Use This
  • Let’s Take a Walk
  • Wake Up
  • Look Out!
  • Living Large
  • Dinner Party
  • Let’s Flush This Out
  • Eat at Joe’s
  • Here and Here and Here and Here
  • Wide Open Spaces
  • Into the Night
  • Fin

Then come seven “shorts” (plus an introduction) covering little tips and tricks that were too long to include in a “regular” episode, but too good to just leave out altogether. Stuff like mirror reflections, color casts from yellow walls, stainless steel, etc. etc.

I think it’s pretty comprehensive. People looking to be told what exact exposure settings to use, or what flash power settings, are going to be disappointed, because these videos concentrate much more on the process, the strategy, behind those decisions, rather than just reciting whatever was going on in any one particular shot. That sort of thing is useless, in my opinion, because no two situations are the same. Better to understand the why of what to do, rather than what someone else did, in some other room.

So the early episodes go into exhaustive detail about what’s going on. As we progress to the more challenging stuff, I drop some of the basic stuff and focus on what’s new and unique to the situation. Whenever possible, I present a simple one or two-light solution, and then build to a more elegant solution.

I hope you like them. Malia Campbell and I put in a TON of work on this. Many, many two and three-hour Skype calls, hours of writing out detailed episode treatments, lots of favors called in from clients (we got some outstanding locations), and some brutally long days of shooting and editing. Malia did a stellar job of capturing the rooms, and the process, and kept me from rambling incoherently and diluting the message (as I’m prone to do). We’d do a take, and I’d be like “That was great!”. Malia would shake her head, and say, “Do it again. Leave out the crap about _____ and ______ — that’s off-topic. Stay with what you’re doing here, now. Ready? Rolling!”

And we’d do it again. And again. Until we had something that was clear, concise, and really illustrated the point I wanted to make.

I hope you like them. Let me know what you think in the comments!