Saturday, April 3, 2010

Executive House Photo Shoot

I spent a busy day shooting this brand new executive Whistler house for CR Contracting, the builders of the place. The house contains some amazing timber framing, with entire tree trunks being used for the upright posts.

This first shot is the front entry, looking towards the kitchen and breakfast nook. One of the great features of this house are the three story high, floor to ceiling windows, but that also caused me huge problems, as it's such a bright light source that almost everything in the room is silhouetted. To balance the light, I used a 640w/s strobe with a large softbox on the second floor landing to camera left to light the the centre and camera right posts, another 640w/s light on the floor to camera left aimed at the bar, and a third 640w/s light with a small softbox behind the post on camera left to light the kitchen.

Actually, the biggest problem with this shot was the $35,000 Steinway baby grand piano that was in the middle of the room and generally in the way of everything. I grabbed a couple of painters who were finishing some work, and we moved it off to the side of the room by the window. The thing weighed more than an old Buick.

This is a shot of the living room from the top mezzanine. Although it looks fairly straight forward, it presented a number of problems. First, there are some very strong vertical lines created by the wooden posts. With a regular wide angle lens, when you aim it down into the room, you get downward pointing converging lines (as you can see in the bottom version of the photo) that make it look like the posts are splaying out. I used a special perspective control lens that allowed me to keep the focal plane parallel to the posts, keeping lines on the posts straight.

Second problem was that there was a large canvas painting on the wall that was bright blue, conflicting badly with the earth tone colour scheme in the room. To fix that, in Photoshop I selected the painting, then I sampled a tone from the coffee table and used it for a gradient overlay to get the painting to match the surrounds a bit better.

The kitchen and library were also problematic. The dark wood panelling looks great, but sucks up light like a black hole. To get any definition, you need use some serious strobe light.  In the lowest photo, you can see the room sans the strobe.

The other problem is that the light outside was several stops brighter than the inside, even with the strobe. To deal with this, I needed to take a shot exposed for the light outside, and then make a special Photoshop mask so that only the outside part of that photo shows through the window, and then overlay that shot on the original image of the inside of the room.

This was actually pretty easy to shoot. The perspective control lens kept the lines straight. I still have another day of work on the house, so there's still a few shots still to come on this one.

Tech Stuff
Camera: Nikon D700
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 PC
Lighting: Alien Bee B1600 640w/s strobe units X 3, 48x32" Photoflex Softbox, 24x16" Photoflex Softbox, 22" Alien Bee Beauty Dish with diffusion sock. Radio Popper Slave Slave Units.

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