Friday, August 7, 2009

Strobist Boot Camp II

This summer David Hobby of the Strobist site started up his second Strobist Boot Camp. These are exercises in using off camera flash. This is his third assignment. I did the first, which was a portrait, skipped the second which was lighting for food. This third is focused on shooting interior of homes and using strobes to help bring out the best features of a single room.

This came about when David sold his home and credits the photos and lighting that generated a fairly quick sale (considering the market these days) and got the full asking price. Not to mention, I could use this experience down the road if I ever decide to sell my home.

I immediately knew that the Living Room/Family room would be the room to photograph. Aside from my bedroom and my office, this is the room I spend the most time in. I also considered the fact that if I were to sell my home, this room would be a major selling point to a potential buyer. When I built this house, I was meticulous in the planning and wiring of this room. I wanted this room to be the place to relax, unwind and become the central meeting place for the home. I pre-wired this room for surround sound and had a cable run for HDMI (HD Video) to the ceiling. This would allow me to install an HD projector utilizing a 100 inch screen. This is the most economical way to get the largest screen size for not a whole lot of money. First of all, what man can say no to a 100 inch screen TV. Second, you can always sell your wife on the idea, because it's a great way to bring the family together for movie night.

I also wired the room so that you could still hook up a traditional TV set in the corner for your everyday viewing. No one really wants to watch the 6 0'clock news on the big screen. Besides, the bulbs in those projectors are not cheap. So save the projector for the movie or the big game and a bulb will last you several years. You can see the image below. The projector is over the main sofa. I wanted to create a warm and relaxed atmosphere in the room, but I also didn't want it to be dark. There is a lot of natural light during the day coming in from a window and the patio door during the day. There's also a lot of natural light spilling over from the office.

It was about 3pm when I took this photo, so I didn't need a lot of light. I did need to bring up the ambient light level up a little bit. I also needed to fill in some dark areas and make it a little more evenly lit. I first started out by turning on the lights in the room. I then gelled a strobe to match the tungsten in the room and used the projection screen as a bounce. This spread out the light across the room and brought up the ambient light in the room. Why the projection screen? There wasn't enough room to setup an umbrella. I took the shot right by the patio door, shooting wide and there was no way to fit an umbrella without it getting into the shot.

Next, I needed to provide some light for the office. Even though this was supposed to be a shot of one room, the office is right next to the living room. Without a light, it would have been a dark hole and not very flattering to the overall look of this image. I used another strobe, gelled it and attached a snoot to focus the light onto the desk. I got these rings of light on the wall because some of the light reflected off the computer monitors which are encased in aluminum. I liked the end result.

Anyway, this is my submission for this assignment. I don't know if I'll be selected as a winner, but it was a great experiment and learning experience. This is typically not the kind of shooting that I do, but it's always nice to try something different and learn something new. If you're really into the technical aspects of this setup, click here and go to my flickr page for all the settings.

By the way, I still have openings for free portrait sessions through the end of August. Check out the blog for more details and contact me for a session.

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.

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