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Karl Wants Suggestions For Shooting Mountain Lodge

Published: 29/04/2009
By: larry

I got a call for help today from Karl who will be shooting a large 130 room mountain lodge in Arizona next week. Karl says he has a couple of strobes and remote triggers but no umbrellas. He'll be shooting Sunday through Thursday and would like to have some suggestions "particularly on lighting/possible placements and equipment". Karl says the clients have specifically asked to see the view out the windows on interior shots and he wants to keep post processing at a minimum.

Here are my suggestions for Karl:

  • Use the Naval Observatory site to research exactly when sunset is on the days you are shooting. Just before and after (about 15 to 20 min each way) sunset will be optimum getting some stunning interior and exterior lights on shots.
  • Use Scott Hargis's classic post on how to use multiple strobes to get proper interior window exposure.
  • Looking at the existing photos on the Greer Lodge web site. it looks like many of the interior walls are varnished log style finish. These type of walls make it tricky to bounce light off of walls. For these situations you might want an umbrella or a large white reflector to bounce light off.
  • Most of the rooms look fairly small, however, if there are large rooms with log walls you may have trouble getting by with just two strobes. You could work around this problem by shooting some bracketed shots to blend together either with Photomatix or "by hand" in Photoshop.

Anyone else have suggestions for Karl on how to handle this shoot? I'm sure I've missed something.

Good luck on the shoot Karl. Be sure to show us some of the results from the shoot.

8 comments on “Karl Wants Suggestions For Shooting Mountain Lodge”

  1. where on the same ship!, i'll be phtographing days inn regina in a few hours, i got three strobes but my trigger is just through CLS. my assignment is a combination of almost everything except macro! I'll be shooting interior, exterior, landscape of sceneries, portrait, product shot. I'm nogood with post production so i usually nail down everything good as much as possible. I bought the ebook lst night for some inspirations and techniques. I'm considering the bracketed shots but my skills with blending and HDR is so crappy yet but i will get some shots on each scene. I hope that somebody with experience here will share their thoughts. good luck to your assignment!

  2. I know it was mentioned wanted to keep processing to a minimum but with Photomatix & its Lightroom plugin doing a 5 exposure blend has produced beautiful results for me so far--especially since I frequently do multiple properties in the same day (I can end up with shots of over 30 rooms/exteriors by the end so cutting down time in the actual shooting & then post-processing is of utmost importance). I recently did a restored school building with very large community spaces that would have been ridiculous to try to light and, in addition, had huge windows with some pretty views that I wanted to keep. The exposure blend of Photomatix did an incredible job. I've done a few comparisons with rooms I used lights on & then the exposure blend from Photomatix and I personally had difficulty finding a difference between the two. So... when in doubt, photomatix it!

  3. A couple of umbrella's would be very helpful. I've done some very large log structures and have found they help spread the light around. I use the Enfuse plug-in for Lightroom (basically the same thing is photomatix) and have found it to work well on rooms that are just impossible to light (no place to hide the lights, etc.), or in cases I think the end result will be a better photo than one lit with strobes. Good Luck.

  4. Wow, thanks for the responses! Oh, and BTW Larry, I ended getting a call for this because a couple months ago someone had ask you if you knew of a photographer in this area and I did his 2 vacation properties for him, and apparently he is doing the new website for this resort and told the PM what a great job I did shooting his homes in Chandler - so, thanks Larry! all here really with the great advice!

    I have some older Vivitar flashes that I can use just need some more triggers for them. I'll also get an umbrella or 2 and a reflector as well. I have done log homes before and know they can be a bit of a PIA sometimes 🙂

    But they want about 650 photos of all the rooms/cabin/restaurants and surrounding property - so I need to get in, get a good shot, move on to the next one

    And good advice larry on the sunset times, I will coordinate with the PM to try to get their best buildings or lodges shot at those times

    On the umbrellas - do you use the white ones - or the reflective silver ones?

  5. Google Earth is your friend for virtually scouting job sites. It can be tricky to read, but orientation of structures and structures vis views, surrounding obstacles like other structures or trees or phone lines all can be scouted from the sky.

    Also, if your budget does not already include an assistant, tell the lodge you need a dedicated helper to be efficient with your time and their $$. Having someone else move the chair while you are at camera (and help schlep from place to place as you move around) will really help crank out the shots.

    Good luck!

    Cameron Carothers

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