Created in Post!
“Let’s fix it in post!” is on of my less favorite sentences. Unfortunately there is only so much a camera, lights, staging and planning can do, and creating-it-in-post is more than often unavoidable for architectural and interior design photography. Basically all of my architecture and interior design images go through extensive and necessary Photoshop work. Even the best cameras are still limited with respect to the dynamic range they can record in a single image. Our eyes can see a lot more nuances between the brightest and the darkest part in our field of view. Architecture and interior design photography also deals with so many factors (weather, parked cars, unsightly wiring, etc.) that I can’t control on set. Portrait photography happens in a much more controlled environment.
My goal in architecture and interior design photography is to make the architect’s and designer’s work look as prefect and natural as possible. That means HDR is an absolute no-go for me. It creates muddy, almost cartoonish pictures. In most of my pictures I use strobes to fill in the darker parts of an image, our eyes would in reality perceive as brighter, and to create some contrast and definition.
The post-production part of my work usually takes up the same amount of time as the actual photoshoot. A two day interior design shoot will need another two days in post.
I wanted to share some of my recent before and after images here. Move the slider handle in the middle of the image to see the original photograph straight out of the camera, and the final picture after post-production.
This image below was shot for a boutique hotel on Vieques, Puerto Rico. Lighting the inside of the rooms on the top floor was not possible. They were occupied and not accessible for me at the time that I had scheduled to photograph the exterior. So, I had to create the 2nd floor light in post-production. The whole image consists of 12 individual exposures, plus several Photoshop adjustment layers.
Utility cables are too often an afterthought in residential and commercial architecture, and they screw up almost every exterior shot. Cars are usually also never at the right spot at the right time, and often impossible to control.
The post-processing in this image is more subtle. Here I was dealing with color casts, perspective correction, creating a bit more contrast, cleaning up the reflection on the floor, and letting the windows not blow out.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of Photoshop work where the exterior, seen through the windows, is as crisp and saturated as the interior. That can make sense, if the flow between interior and exterior is an important element of the image. But here it isn’t, and there isn’t much to see outside anyway. So, I think it’s OK to have the exterior brighter than the interior.
Black cabinetry sucks up the light like is no tomorrow. It’s amazing how much light is necessary to make black cabinets visible in images. They also had a texture that was important to capture. The hanging cabinets had dark metal fronts, which was another challenge.
Otherwise, the base/before image needed color cast removal, a glass on the table needed to be moved, and strobe layers had to be added for contrast, to better show the cabinetry and the hallway.
This apartment had blackout shades. I was so happy! There were 3 big, almost floor to ceiling, windows behind the camera. Light coming from behind makes images look awfully flat. I would have otherwise had to block those windows with plastic tarps, which I always carry to shoots for that purpose. Here it was just a press of a button. Those blackout shades made the shoot so much easier.
Unlike in the image above I wanted here a crisp view through the window of the exterior. This was a New York City, Park Avenue, apartment and the view of the exterior helped giving the image some city context.