Inside Out

Here’s an image that’s a good example of a technique I’ve been working on. I had both interior and exterior issues to deal with here. The outside areas ranged from blindingly bright concrete in the foreground (about f/3 billion) to the deep shadows in front of the rear structure. The interior was a good one and a half stops below my darkest exposure for the outside.

While this might have been a good candidate for a hand blend, I opted instead to shoot it as a 3-exposure Photomatix blend (I prefer Blends over HDR), and flash the interiors. Two lights were used, both of them SB-80s triggered by Pocket Wizards. One is directly behind the nearest vertical windowframe (those little video-tripod lightstands have tiny profiles) and is aimed straight into the room, with the Wide Angle Diffuser (WAD) lens down. The second light is bounced in from the right side. My exposures were -2, 0, +2, and the lights fired on all three.

After Photomatix did the blend, I layered in the darkest exposure to gain more detail in the foreground. I’m going to continue working on this technique, as it can really rescue a shot when there’s a serious time-of-day problem!

8 responses to “Inside Out

  1. Scott,

    I am always amazed not only with your technique but also with your artistic ability to capture the essence of the space.

    Thanks for sharing this with the world.

  2. henrique baldwin

    thanks for sharing your techniques. always worth filing away and using when the time is right. as always, i appreciate your insights.

  3. Looks great….

    How do you deal with leaves moving from one frame to the next? Can’t really tell from the web sized shot, but it looks like you don’t have any issues there. So I’m curious how you overcome that, as even the tiniest, most gentle puff of a breeze can really screw you up when doing multiple exposures outdoors…

    • Andy, in this case it was a relatively windless day, or it wouldn’t have worked. If you click the image and view the larger size, you can see some blurring in the distant trees at the top of the image.

      In a pinch, those could have been layered in as a single exposure, but that would be impossible for the more complex area down in the courtyard. I wouldn’t have a solution for that, other than a full-on hand blend, which is much harder for me.

  4. This totally blows my mind. I don’t know how you consistently do what you do.

  5. First off, thank you, Scott, for inspiring me to always be working to improve my photography!

    I had a similar interior/exterior opportunity, and there was a pool in the rear yard:

    …I thought the photos turned out ok, until the property owner/seller told her agent not to use my photos because “that’s not how [her] house looks.” Oh well, can’t please everyone all the time; just some, some of the time. 🙂

  6. Bob Estremera


    two questions:
    I would have expected harsher shadows from the light behind the window frame but the shadows on the furniture seem very natural. Can you explain the two lights and why?
    Can you explain, briefly, how you ‘layer’ the dark layer after Photomatix has done it’s thing?

    Thanks, Bob

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