Architectural Photography; Professional Techniques For Shooting Interior And Exterior Spaces Page 2

If a preliminary visit to the site cannot be arranged, then you should try to sit down with your client ahead of time. Find out whether your client has personal preferences in photographic style. Certain features of the job may need emphasis—find out as much about them as you can beforehand, so you avoid unpleasant surprises on the shoot. Among the things you might need to know are the following:
• Will access be restricted to particular areas?
• Will the site be in operation, or will the shoot take place after hours?

McCormick Tribune Campus Center, Illinois Institute of Technology. Architect Rem Koolhaas, 2003. Before a shoot you should know whether you will be photographing a site after hours or during operation, as was the case here.

If so, are you likely to have to contend with cleaning people or other maintenance workers?
• Will you have full access to lighting controls if necessary?
• How recently has your client viewed the job site?
• For a large project, will the client have a representative to help with any situations that may arise or with any last-minute cleanup that might be essential to the shoot?

It is wise to try to find out whether the architect has had to compromise on some aspect of the job. I remember one major shoot in which the architect failed to mention ahead of time that he hated the very prominent light fixtures that the client had insisted on in an atrium. Fortunately I was able to come up with some views in which they were suitably downplayed, if not eliminated.

The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan is unusually theater-like, permitting unobstructed views of the altar from every pew.
I used this subject for a test of a Schneider Super-Angulon lens, mounted on my Arca Swiss Metric 6 x 9 view camera, using available light only.

Lighting And Color Balance
The lighting of interiors, especially the balancing of light intensity and color, has always presented photographers with a challenge. With each situation, the photographer must decide not only whether to add light but how much and of what quality.

What normally determines whether an interior needs supplemental lighting is the dynamic range—the span from lightest to darkest zones—present in the subject area and the dynamic range of the medium used to record the space. If the dynamic range of the composition is within the latitude of the film or digital camera, it is possible that additional lighting may not be needed. Sometimes, however, other factors may be involved. A mixture of light sources may produce unwanted color shifts, some of which may be easier to correct than others. In some situations, differences in color temperature from one area to the next are more significant than brightness variations. This is often the case with under-cabinet counter lighting, which is usually fluorescent, frequently overly bright, and different in color temperature from surrounding areas.

Miami Federal Courthouse, Arquitectonica, Miami, Florida. The courtrooms of Miami’s new federal building have complex, pale-gray ceilings that complement the warm wood paneling and furnishings as well as the pale marble and blue carpet. Automated blinds control the amount of daylight entering through the high windows, and the ceilings look quite different when lit by daylight than they do when illuminated artificially.
I used my Canon EOS-1Ds (Mk I) with a 24mm tilt-shift lens, at ASA 200, an f/8 aperture setting, and exposures of .3 and .6 seconds.

In fact, most modern interiors exhibit variations in light levels and in color temperature. This variety is usually a basic part of the design—and should be if it isn’t. In such situations, photographers sometimes make the mistake of carefully correcting all areas of composition color-wise, and then also balancing the light level, only to end up with an unflattering, unrealistic, overly flat result. Instead, photographers should consider the overall objective of producing an appealing, realistic rendition of the space that may not reproduce the actual lighting with 100 percent accuracy but reflects the basic philosophy of the design. A warm rendition of an interior is usually more appealing, though not necessarily more accurate, than a cool one. Supplemental lighting can be used to reduce overall contrast or dynamic range and also to reduce variations in color temperature.

Another approach, available to the digital photographer, is high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, in which the photographer makes a series of perfectly aligned exposures using ambient available light only. Later, the exposures are uploaded into a computer program and then combined into a final composition.