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.



Pocket Wizard Firmware Bug for Canon Users

Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5

Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5

I just discovered a known issue with the Pocket Wizard firmware for Canon. I use the PW Mini and Flex units. The vast majority of the time, I’m just firing one remote speedlite and it works just fine. The problem started when I tried to add a second 580 EXII onto the camera. In case you’re not familiar, here’s the set-up: The Mini sits on the camera’s hotshoe and triggers the Flex which has a flash mounted on it. I then slide another flash onto the mini. The instructions say that the unit on the mini must be set to “master”. I followed all instructions and nada.

So I called tech support and they told me it’s an issue with the latest firmware (which I faithfully update). They sent me some files where I can revert my units to the previous firmware and told me the next update should clear it up. I just reverted the firmware last night and the system works perfectly.

This may not affect you if you never have a speedlite on camera while triggering another off-camera; I rarely do (mind you, I’m not talking about using an on-cam flash to trigger another as with Canon’s wireless controls or Nikon’s CLS). But the product should work as advertised in the moments when, say, you want to use an on-camera flash for fill. Or another instance that I found myself in when I wanted to use high-speed sync. As you may know, HSS or Auto FP for Nikon users, is a great way to shoot at shutter speeds above your camera’s sync speed (around 200th/sec). But doing so comes at the price of power. So having a second flash firing in HSS (even if it is on camera) is a good way to compensate.

If you’re having the same issues, now you know what it is.

Technique Tuesday: Bedroom

Ok, I’m calling this “Technique Tuesday” but I can’t promise I’ll do this every week. But today is Tuesday and this is about a technique I use almost everyday; hence the title. Brilliant, no?

A Master Bedroom

f/10, 1/3 second, ISO 200

The image above is pretty much the RAW image straight out of camera. It’s shot with a Canon 5D and a 580EXII on camera with a diffuser and bounced off the ceiling. If I remember correctly, I believe I have the flash set to TTL and boosted it by +2.

I then set up an Alien Bees 1600 strobe to camera left fired through an umbrella and set to 1/8 power for the image below.

Master Bedroom

f/8, 1/8 second, ISO 200

You can see right away what adding an extra off-camera light adds to the image. (Note: the image above was tweaked slightly in Adobe Camera Raw.) I then took another exposure for the window:

Master Bedroom

f/10, 1/180th, ISO200

I also tweaked the image above to bring out the blue in the sky a little. I then placed that image on top of the first one in Photoshop and masked out the window for the final image. I also got rid of that bothersome sensor dust in the ceiling.

Master Bedroom

That’s it. No fancy HDR tricks. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

Get Schooled in Lighting

In my last post, I mentioned Joe McNally and David Hobby (the grand masters of off-camera flash) are going a cross-country tour called the Flash Bus.

Now they both announced new instructional DVDs. Above is the promo video for the McNally DVD called “The Language of Light”.  No word on pricing yet; his blog talks about the Flash Bus and promises a link to Adorama to get the DVD.

[UPDATE: The link for Adorama lists the price for $159.95, the same price for Hobby’s set]

Over on the Strobist site, David Hobby goes into more detail on his “Lighting in Layers” DVD. It’s a 6-disc, 9-hour DVD covering six shoots (plus a bonus CD-ROM) for $159.95. For beginners, Hobby recommends the “Strobist Lighting Seminar“, but that’s getting updated soon so you might want to hold off.

If you want to learn about small flash and off-camera flash, these are the guys to learn it from and now there are more ways to access their wealth of knowledge.