Andy Frame (flickr handle andyframe) from Lake Worth, FL, a long time participant of the PFRE flickr group just told me that last month he was hired to shoot the 2950 ton, 281' motor yacht Cakewalk for a 12 page article in the Dec/Jan issue of Showboats International. You can see many of Andy's photos from this shoot at his blog.
Just for background, the Cakewalk is not your ordinary motor yacht. This is the largest (by volume) private yacht built in the US! Launched at the Derecktor ship yards on August 8, 2010. The yacht is designed by Tim Heywood Designs with Naval Architecture by Azure Naval Architecture and interior design by Liz Dalton of Dalton Designs.
Andy attributes his success at moving his interior photography skills, in two years time, from average to shooting $5M+ estates and then to landing large significant shoots like the Cakewalk and others to the collective collaboration and learning environment of the PFRE flickr group.
Andy say's, " While I've been a photographer all my life, I have only been full time for the last 2.5 years or so. I started shooting PFRE and making my full time living at it since then. When I first began PFRE, I really had no idea how to shoot interiors at all. But from your book, your blog, and especially the PFRE Flickr group, I learned everything I now know. Anyway... the point is that I would have never been able to complete an assignment like this had it not been for you and those who regularly contribute to the PFRE group and the information and techniques I learned from all of you. So I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your knowledge and facilitating a great place to learn."
I have to congratulate Andy on a magnificent set of images! My first question was to ask Andy what type of lighting he used. Andy describes his lighting and post-processing as follows:
"These were mostly 5 shot ambient exposure fusion with gridded/gelled strobe light-painting accents. On this particular gig, I was shooting tethered with the art director of the magazine, interior designer, and interior manager of the yacht all having input on the styling, and to a lesser extent composition. We shot at night, so there was no daylight influence in the scene. Plus the lighting design of the spaces was obviously well thought out so shooting ambient was the clear choice. Tungsten was the primary source, but it just didn’t really pop, like these shots were going to need to. That’s when I decided to use some accents.
"I used a single AB800 with a 20 degree grid and full CTO. I have a wireless shutter release. And shooting with a Nikon D3, I can set up auto bracket a full stop apart up to 9 brackets. 5 single stop brackets were all I needed to capture the dynamic range of each scene here. Then I shut off auto-bracketing and capture all the accents on the middle exposure. Basically, I just walk around popping accents on all of the spots I think they should go. The modeling light on the Bee helps me aim.
"For post, I blend the brackets with Lightroom Enfuse. Then I take the new blended file and eyeball all the accent frames and make them match the tone of the blend. Just getting it close is all you need to do. Then I layer everything in Photoshop, with the blend on the bottom. I turn off all the layers except the blend/bottom. Working from the bottom up, I turn on the next accent layer, grab a lasso with about a 30 px feather. Draw a circle around the accent and then create a layer mask. Adjust opacity to taste, and move up to the next layer.
"After I’ve completed all the blending/accent layers, then it goes back into LR for the final exposure/contrast/saturation/lens corrections."
Andy and the whole PFRE take a bow! Andy's success clearly demonstrates what a great environment the PFRE flickr group is to learn interior photography!