My Worst Critic


There’s this guy; hard to please. You know the type. Every once in a while, he’ll like one of my images, but he’s never really satisfied with my work. That guy is me. I think I am producing some of the best work of my career right now. Not every single image is a winner, but I have more hits than misses and the hits are pretty good. But I’m still not where I want to be. I am, at least, reassured by looking at my past work. I can look at my work from a year ago and wince a little. It was the same the year before that. It’s a sign of personal growth.

I’ve done “before and after” comparisons before (links at the end of this post). This time, I am comparing my own work. I recently had the opportunity to photograph a property that I shot in 2010.

Living Room

Before

This first one isn’t terrible, but the color seems a bit off and it would be nice to see what’s outside that window.

Living Room

After

That’s better. A slightly different composition but the room seems a bit brighter. Here’s the reverse angle:

Living Room

Before

Living Room

After

Next is the master bedroom:

Master Bedroom

Before

I think I was trying too hard to show the TV in the shot (clients ask for it). So I decided to take a different approach.

Master Bed

After

Again, you can see out the window and the color and lighting is a bit more pleasing. How about the master bath?

Master Bath

Before

Master Bath

After

Ouch. Enough said.

Bedroom

Before

Bedroom

After

That last one is pretty much the same story. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years, mostly through trial and error. I develop new techniques and refine them. When you do something over and over again, it begins to take shape. I hope I can look back at my work next year and see improvement.

Can’t get enough of the before and after stuff? Check out these past posts:

Before and After: A Tale of Two Villas

Why Realtors Should Use Professional Photography

Before and After Real Estate Photos

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Behind the Scenes of a Real Estate Photo Shoot


I recently posted a picture on my Facebook fan page and someone asked for some behind the scenes info. While I sometimes take some set-up shots with my phone, I’m usually so busy I forget to do it more often. So instead, I thought I’d show a couple of exposures I used to make a final image.

bedroom set-up shot

In the photo above you can see my strobe firing into the ceiling. I took this exposure for the window on the far side of the bedroom. I had already taken one exposure for the bedroom using a single speedlight. But that flash is not powerful enough to overpower the sun. It requires a shutter speed fast enough to render detail out the window but it leaves the window frame nearly black. So I pull out the big gun. This is the final image:

Master Bed 1-3 copy

It’s a similar scenario in the master bathroom. I took an exposure for the room with the speedlight in my hand bounced off the ceiling. But if I took an exposure for the outside, the flash would reflect off the window. So I had to move slightly to the left. This exposure also corrects for the light fixture which would otherwise be blown out.

_R5A2975 copy

This is the final image:

Master Bath 1 copy

So there you have it. Just a couple of examples that give you a little insight into how I get my shots.

 

Photographing a Modern Day Palace


I just returned from a trip to Italy where I saw the ruins of ancient Rome and had to imagine the size and scale of the buildings. In Rome, Florence  and Venice, I also saw some very well preserved palaces that are now museums and thought to myself: “I can’t believe this used to be someone’s home.”

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Grand Hall at Palazzo Vecchio

The Grand Hall at Palazzo Vecchio – Florence, Italy

 Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy

The Doge’s Palace – Venice, Italy

I shoot a lot of high-end homes and while I am always a little in awe, it takes a lot now to really impress me. Well, consider me impressed. I recently photographed a 10-Master Bedroom home that had some features I’ve never seen before; at least not all in one home. As I was walking through the home I thought to myself: “This is like a modern-day palace. I wonder if it’s still standing in 300 or 1,000 years, what people will think of it.”

One of my former clients installed residential bowling alleys and I photographed one at the home of a Major League Baseball player. I didn’t get to see the whole house but I may have been just as impressed with that one. Well, this one has lanes too.

bowling alley

How about an indoor racquetball court that also doubles as a basketball court with a retracting hoop:

I’ve shot homes with arcades in the past. Check the box on this one too.

Arcade

…and a game room:

Game Room

Or how about a round of poker while watching three different games on TV!

Poker table

The house has a lot of cool little features. Like the doors which opened when you waved your hand in front of a sensor. It would also sense your body if you are close enough and open automatically a-la Star Trek.

But the biggest surprise was the bathrooms. I backed up into the closet where the toilet is to take this shot (you can see the identical closet on the opposite side of the bath tub):

Master Bathroom

Well, when I backed in, sensors must have detected my motion and the toilet seat lifted automatically and music started playing. I shit you not. Here’s video of it:

Hey, why not a tune while you toot?

Until next time…”champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”

Before and After: A Tale of Two Villas


It’s been awhile since I’ve done a “before and after” series (you can see the past posts linked at the end of this one). I thought you might enjoy the night and day differences between the images a client had before and what I delivered. The client was so pleased, he said it looked like two different  villas.

Before image of house

Before

After image of house front

After

Before image of pool

Before

After image of pool

After

Living Room Before

Before

Living Room After

After

Dining Before

Before

Dining After

After

Game Room Before

Before

Game Room After

After

Master Bedroom Before

Before

Master Bedroom After

After

Master Bed Before

Before

Master Bed After

After

Master Bed Before

Before

Maste Bed After

After

Related Posts:

Before and After Real Estate Photos

Before and After Real Estate Photographs

Why Realtors Should Use Professional Photography

Photographing a 14-thousand Square Foot Home


500 Muirfield

I’ve shot some big homes before. But this one takes the cake. This 14-thousand square foot, 9-bedroom home is the largest home I’ve shot to date. The pool area alone was bigger than most homes!

500 Muirfield Pool

Yes, there are lights that shoot through the jets of water, like tracer rounds (I still don’t know how they do it). The long exposure above makes it look like the fountains are constantly lit.

This is a vacation home and the best part of the story for me is that the homeowner told me since the pictures went live, he’s had 30 bookings! That’s enough to carry over into 2013! Proof that professional photography adds value.

I’ll leave you with a few more images. Check out the full gallery here.

500 Muirfield Living Room

500 Muirfield Home Theater

500 Muirfield Marilyn Room

Photographing Motocross Sports


Dirt Bike in the Air

…and now for something completely different. Every once in a while, I like to push myself out of my comfort level and try something new. A few weeks ago, a photographer friend of mine posted an image on Facebook of a motocross racer and said he wanted to try to shoot something like that. My neighbor’s two kids race their bikes at a track not far from here so I coordinated a shoot during a practice night.

For someone who shoots houses for a living, trying to shoot something that moves very fast is a change of pace, to say the least. I got there just before the sun set and quickly found I had to boost my ISO to at least 800. I knew I wanted to show some motion in the wheels so I thought a shutter speed of 1/125th would work. I was shooting with the 70-200 f/2.8 lens and thought I would start at f/5.6, but that went out the window right away and I was shooting wide open at 2.8 the whole night.

Motocross Rider at Sunset

After the sun set, I had to boost my ISO to “HI” which on my camera body is only 3200. I started shooting in RAW, but switched over to JPEG because at 6.5 frames per second, the buffer time was taking too long. My Compact Flash cards have a 30 Mb/s transfer rate. If I shot sports professionally, I’d probably have the 45 Mb/s cards. One last tip if you’re shooting fast action: make sure you set your camera’s focus drive to “AI Servo” (aka Continuous Focus for Nikon). This tells your camera to track motion.

ATVs Jumping

Despite all the knowledge I brought onto the track, the vast majority of my shots were craptacular! I had trouble nailing the focus in the low light conditions. But hey, that’s what trying something new is all about, right? I might go again…maybe during the day to see if I have better luck. You can see the rest of the gallery HERE.

Photographing an In-Home Arcade


Most of the luxury homes I photograph have at least one room dedicated to entertainment. Maybe it’s a pool table in the garage, or an in-home movie theater. Then there’s the in-home bowling alley. But a recent shoot took the cake for the number of arcade games in one room.

In-Home Arcade

It’s one thing to add six arcade machines in what used to be a garage; but the homeowner went the extra step of knocking out a bedroom and bathroom to add another machine…

In-Home Arcade

..and did I mention the 80-inch LCD TV?

In-Home Arcade

Who needs bedrooms and bathrooms in a house when you’ve got an arcade? Actually, that red sofa does have a pull out bed.

Here are a couple more looks at the room:

In-Home Arcade

In-Home Arcade

All this just leaves one question: Can I borrow some tokens?