We have all photographed those bright spaces full of luxurious daylight poped a few strobes into a softbox or wall and come away with breathtaking shots. For me there is nothing better to walk into a room like this on an assignment because I know the work has essentially been done for me, all I need to do is get a good angle and open the shutter long enough. Yet there is another type of space that can crush even the most experienced interior photographers, the low-key room. A room with little or no ambient light with dark corners and screaming highlights, one in which the tonal range is heavy in the darks and bright highlights and not much in between. What can we do to conquer this type of space?
Using Drones for Supplemental Lighting
Since the colorado project in 2006, I had always seen the last piece of the lighting puzzle to be lights lofted above coming down at steller like angles. I remember very clearly while shooting the old broken down general store in Animas Co thinking to myself, damn if I could get light about 30 feet up and directed it down on this thing or that, it would be the holy grail of my lighting desires! My mind wistfully drew up plans of tethered balloons, hot air balloons, and the ubiquitous helicopter. Yet in each of these grand visions was either technical or cost hurdles too great to mount a real charge. And so after several years of flying drones, I finally was able to find the moment to attach some lights to a DJI Mavic 2 Pro and let em rip!
How often do photographers get clients who call up and ask to just do a few shots? Quick and cheap. Often times photographers will feel the pressure to work and justify unreasonably fast shot times to get the assignment; set up the camera and a few lights if any and then onto our screens will magically pop a finished image. Even I fall into this trap in spite of the fact I am a lifelong learner and expert in this business. Yet over and over again I find that great shots take time, they take time and patience to find just that right angle and lighting approach. Try to rush them and you are sure to end up with sub-par results in line with the plethora of new “photographers” work out there. But how do you get to that perfect composition and why does it take time? I decided to put into writing a mostly fluid and intuitive process as best I could. These 5 metrics only skim the surface of the complexities of a great image but they are a great primer to building a great composition, to help you become a more informed client or better photographer!
Portfolio websites are a facade of perfection showing only the successes of one’s career. They show the work after all the work sweat and sometimes tears are done. After any mistakes are polished out the work is hung in a digital “glass” box and preserved as if in a fountain of youth for artwork. But what happens when things don’t quite work out? I don’t mean some amateurish mistake. I the inevitable shoot when you did everything you could but the cards were stacked against you.