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Thread: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

  1. #1
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    Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    I lately had the opportunity to do a 1st interior & exterior architecture work.
    My employer asked me to illustrate our new building for various publications and for a huge advertising place on the street.

    This experience was exciting and really complicated at first: no budget so no special care done to the floor decoration, internal lightning, etc.
    Some rooms (vip restaurant) were dimly lit but with huge windows letting the outside lights coming in. Cold lights from outside mixed to warm tungsten lights from inside + bracketing for hdr compositions made the final development really difficult. I couldn't produce natural tones - or even consistent colors on the different shots taken in that place. Color balance of that mixed lightning really changed when pointing the camera more to the window or more to the inside of the room.

    The outside shot of the main buiding was also terrible: no sun during 2 weeks in my country (Belgium). Then some sunlights in the morning but shadows of trees darkening the buiding. Then trucks park in front of the entrance, then workers busy at the gate, etc.

    I made 3 shoot atempts in a 2 weeks period before finally having an acceptable external shot....

    So I really can't understand how people manage to earn money with architecture pictures ?

    This will sound very naïve but, how are you dealing with all those things that can ruin a shot ? Are there specific rules dictated to the customers and asking them to take the necessary measures to clean the building from external unsuitable elements ??
    But in this case, if the customer did accept and manage to avoid all those elements, if you had to travel 300km to reach the place, how are you dealing with bad weather conditions ? It shouldn't be a real concern in Phoenix, AZ, but in north of France, Belgium, Germany, weather is bad 10 months a year...

    No really I don't understand how you architecture photographers manage to deal with all that and I really those that succeed in.

    And of course it would be great to share some experienced feedback !

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    I would shoot interiors if I could at night, so I didn't have a mixture of lighting problems. If I could I would simply light the room myself with incandescent lighting. They were all color-balanced so it was simple. Some times it wasn't so simple and I would have to make double or triple exposures, using color balancing filters for each exposure, carefully building up the image and exposure. Sometimes I could shoot it in daytime and use strobes to light the room. I would usually test it with one or two Polaroid shots. I didn't find it necessary to shoot a lot of Polaroid, but I have heard about photographers who had to. Exteriors are more tricky and I have to confess in Northern California even though we do have a winter, there are enough sunny days that usually something could be done. I haven't tried shooting a mixed lighting picture with digital but I would think that it should be possible without too much fuss, but that could be my ignorance. Anybody out there shoot digital interiors in mixed lighting situations? Joe

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    Color balance of that mixed lightning really changed when pointing the camera more to the window or more to the inside of the room.... you should use a fixed color temp...

    it's difficult to earn money in this field... you need time, a lot of time...
    i stock post production for days with bad weather... a friend of mine shoots only with bad weather, and boost saturation... my style is just the opposite, so there's no magic solution, just waiting for a good light !

    But with U points technologie software, and a technical camera (Arca RM3D, ALPA, CAMBO...) with a MFDB... things are a lot easier than it used to be with film !

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    One of my first jobs out of school was working for a West Coast USA commercial photographer that did a lot of architectural work for resorts and developers. We worked on a lot of decent budget shoots and the main thing that separated his architectural work from most other photographers was production.

    Some buildings can only be photographed at certain times of year. We would do location scouting and determing those types of things ahead of time. If a building couldn't be photograhed well in natural light during a certain time of year then we would give a client an estimation of when would be a good time and force the client to wait. Weather is important but the position of sunrise and sunsets were probably was the biggest factor. Some of the best angles on exteriors of buildings will sit in shade for much of the year.

    IF a client needed an exterior photograph quickly and couldn't wait for the optimum time of year for natural light, then we would light the exterior with a crew. We might spend an entire night lighting the exterior and then drop a sky or something in post. Buildings could look really incredible when lit with location lighting and a crew and about 2 small trucks worth of gear. WOW - it's fun to do those kinds of shots...but expensive and most clients couldn't afford it or just didn't want to spend the money.

    The angles or "views" to be shot during the production were always determined during the location scouting and during meetings with the client before the production. During this time, we'd make note of any landscaping work that needed to be done or maintenance work that needed to be performed on the building. This is also the time we would determine what might need to be retouched and budget that into the bid too.

    All interiors were lit with studio quality artificial lighting. Available lights were only used as "accent" lights or "decorative" lights and were never used to light a room but only to add ambience. All lighting was done by a crew. IT would take about 5-6 people to light an interior. A large interior might take all day, but an average interior shot would take us about 4-5 hours. A typical location day of shooting interiors would be about 15 hours long...so we'd get about 1-3 interiors shots done in a day.

    You're right that the mixed color balance between windows and interior lighting creates all kinds of color problems. That's another reason that we had light everything with a crew. We would still use exposure stacking but just in a different way than the typical HDR. We would also used sequenced flashes to get extended DOF and focusing stacking. But sometimes it's not possible to use exposure and focus stacking if there is talent in the scene. So it's often still necessary to be able to light and shoot an interior without too much digital trickery.

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    The first thing an architectural photographer learns is patience! Waiting for a cloud or the sun to move, waiting for the right balance of skylight and interior lighting, waiting for vehicles to move...
    Unlike Mike's boss, I work with one assistant, and don't use much additional lighting. I might use a small lamp to light up a small dark area if it's important, but that's about it. Very early in my career, I learned that if an architect had not lighted an area, it was because he didn't want it lit. Different approaches, I guess.

    Kumar

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by FromJapan View Post
    Very early in my career, I learned that if an architect had not lighted an area, it was because he didn't want it lit. Different approaches, I guess.

    Kumar
    That's a good point about keeping with the "spirit" of the architect or interior designer etc. We never worked directly for an architect, so they were never present on a shoot. Most of the people that we worked for were owners of properties and they would usually be really open to a different interpration. But we would always keep with the spirit of what the original designers had in mind.

    For example, let's imagine that the lighting scheme to a room is centered around a large statue and fountain with beautiful built-in lighting. We certainly don't want to change the feel and vibe of the room. The built-in lighting might look great to the human eye but almost never translates well at capture because the ratios are bad. SO we might use all of our lighting gear to adjust the ratios in the room while maintaining the same spirit as the designer intended. A lot of photographers will try and play with these ratios in HDR etc. But they lose control of color and also end up with a flat looking lighting schema.


    I do remember having trouble with a few interior designers. They would get angry and frustrated when we would start moving furniture around etc. But again, the way the room looks to the human eye is not the way it's going to look at capture, so we always had to be willing to bulldoze over the designers to get our way for the photography.

    Another thing we were always concerned about was that if a room looked perfect from a certain angle without much work, then there's a good chance another photographer could easily come in and produce the same shot. So that's when we might get really creative and avoid doing the obvious shot in favor of something more complicated.

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    Well, I work almost always with architects and interior designers. They tend to become so involved in their work that sometimes they're not very objective about it. My aim is to show the work in its best light, and also show them what they have designed. Most of my work is done with color negative film, or the Betterlight, both of which have enormous latitude.

    I tend not to move furniture around too much - it can completely alter the character of an interior, which is not what my clients want.

    I don't worry about what another photographer might or might not do. I don't spend my life looking over my shoulder.

    Kumar

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    Very interesting input so far. Many thanks.
    Getting consistent and natural color rendering with mixed lights and multi-exposure frames is really tricky for me. It's certainly also due to a lack of rigor during the shooting and the development. Standardizing the whole process should help (maybe by taking fixed exposures for underexposed, overexposed, correctly exposed shots. Then same color balance for all the underexposed, overexposed, etc. Then mixing the bracketed shots to get a final correctly exposed one). But I think I was not that far from that process and still had very different looks for the same room serie. The pictures taken with the huge window in the back of the camera were the easiest and gave a natural result. This look was not reproduced correctly when the window was at one side of the camera or when the camera was in face of the window. I did miss something...

    This first experience was done with a D3X + 24mm pc-e and with a phase one P40+ when no wide angle was needed. The P40+ files were more easy to handle in post-prod in general - but this was really remarkable on the color balance. P40+ really helps getting a natural/accurate result.

    For external shots, using googlemaps to get an idea of the location (if too far to visit) and an apple app like Focalware to estimate the sun position and angle from the ground maybe are current tools that could make the shot a bit easier to organize.

    Anyway, I can't imagine how complex it must be to manage the customer aspect.
    Making a price offer for a real estate customer that ask several high resolution pictures of sites and building located in different countries and that have to be shot in winter - because he cannot wait - maybe is the toughest part of the job !

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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    My clients are responsible for the state of the building I am supposed to photograph. Before accepting my fees they are made aware of the fact that any unreasonable delays (caused, for example, by dirty windows, delivery vans parked in front of a façade, etc) in the execution of the assignment will be charged to them. They tend to understand that they are hiring both my skill and my time.

  10. #10
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    Re: Architecture pictures and weather conditions

    let's compare prices...
    what's the current prices to hire a photograph to shoot let say 15 images of a building.
    Price including post production, taxes...

    here prices varies a lot from photographer to photographer... same for quality...

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