Stunning photos how to
April 27, 2009 9:19 PM   Subscribe

How is this photography effect achieved?

http://ny.vicaso.com/compare

How does this service capture the richness, detail, and lighting on the HD photo compared to the standard shot.

Tips on how to recreate this would be excellent. ( I have some photoshop experience and access to a Nikon D3 / D300)
posted by crewshell to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
It looks like a lens with the same field of view but less distortion (note the lack of curved walls, for instance), combined with bracketed exposure and post-processing to combine the images.
posted by odinsdream at 9:22 PM on April 27, 2009


It looks like a process called HDR whereby the same composition is photographed a number of times at different exposure speeds and the resulting images are combined via channel mixing and other trickery to create a kind of composite image.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:26 PM on April 27, 2009


Looks like HDR?
posted by j at 9:27 PM on April 27, 2009


Well, one way to do it would be to take multiple exposures and properly overlay them. That is, you take one photo to expose the shadows, one for the midtones, and another for the highlights. Then combine them in a way to get the best contrast range. This is the fundamental idea behind HDR.

Photoshop CS3 has a quick, cheat action to do this if you feed it multiple images. But you'll need a tripod, plus an understanding of aperture settings to get the best results. You want to make sure that the scene stays exactly the same, with the same depth of field, for all of the exposures.
posted by sbutler at 9:28 PM on April 27, 2009


HDR. Also, of course, the 'standard' shots are deliberately ill-exposed, taken at the wrong time of day to compensate for the light levels, slightly out of focus, etc. But that "intense" look is HDR.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:29 PM on April 27, 2009


Also, if you're going to do indoor shots like that you'll want to invest in a nice wide angle lens (NOT a fish angle). There's just not enough space in a normal room to get such a wide shot with a 35mm or 50mm. I'm pretty happy with my Tokina AT-X 124 PRO DX II.

You'll get some barrel distortion, but you can usually correct that pretty easily in Photoshop.
posted by sbutler at 9:36 PM on April 27, 2009


HDR, sharpening.
posted by halogen at 9:37 PM on April 27, 2009


You may also be able to use some panorama stitching software, like the open source Hugin, to align hand held images. You can then either to process them into an HDR image with another tool, or use Hugin's enfuse mode to "fuse" multiple regions, selecting the properly exposed pieces of each.
posted by JiBB at 9:56 PM on April 27, 2009


iPhoto '09 can simulate HDR photography with the "highlights" and "shadows" adjustment sliders, for what it's worth, though it's obviously not as good as doing it the "right" way (although honestly it's pretty damn close).
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2009


This page says "High Dynamic Range Image Compositing."

So, my guess is HDR, as already mentioned, and possibly added compositing, such as adding the outdoor elements from different shots.

Shooting on a tripod is necessary of course, then a series of exposures is taken. Or, shooting in RAW can also allow you to make duplicate files and tweak the exposures in each copy before combining them back into one.
posted by The Deej at 10:51 PM on April 27, 2009


I'll guess that it is two exposures combined via tone mapping. One exposure is metered for the exterior light and the other for the interior.

The wide angle lens needs to be a rectilinear or rectangular projection lens of good to excellent quality. The Canon EF-S 10-22mm zoom is a good choice for crop sensor cameras such as the 40/50D or Rebel. Better yet, if you are skillful and have the time and wherewithal to experiment and, ideally, a full-frame sensor camera, a wide-angle tilt-shift such as Canon's newest 18mm (not yet shipping) will produce the best geometry and most resemble how the human eye perceives interior spaces.
posted by bz at 10:54 PM on April 27, 2009




Be aware, it's not just HDR, though there probably is some tone mapping. Professional real estate photography uses an astonishing amount of lighting to match the interior exposure with the outside light. These are without a doubt professionally lit. I have some experience with this, and it is initially quite a task to get the images to look natural. I'd recommend reading Photography For Real Estate and The Strobist. This recent post where he photographs his house is a good example. For instance, this picture was taken in a single exposure. On the other hand, you may not have six lights.

Here's my advice: since you have access to a D3 and a D300, I'm guessing you have access to some lighting equipment too. That level of investment in camera bodies usually results in at least one speedlight, maybe two. So read Strobist, especially the Lighting 101, and experiment with lighting a bit, learn how lighting ratios work etc.

Then set up the lights in the room where you can light at least a proportion of it well. In this instance, it's better to light one part of it properly than the whole thing badly. Then, keeping the camera still on a tripod, light another portion, etc etc. Then combine the multiple exposures in Photoshop. I'd also take a separate exposure for the exterior, and drop that in afterwards, as you may end up blowing out the windows or creating reflection a bit.

That's going to town a bit, but high-end photography is a lot of work! Feel free to ask any further questions.
posted by Magnakai at 1:56 AM on April 28, 2009


Actually, after posting all that, I found this post from querty's link.

So it is purely bracketed HDR stuff. Looks like a LOT of work in Photoshop. Also, quite a funny business model.
posted by Magnakai at 2:17 AM on April 28, 2009


HDR, but you could probably get most of the effect by lighting the interior of the room with off-camera flash.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:36 AM on April 28, 2009


HDR? seriously, people? I can see reflections from at least two large softboxes from a mile away. that is SO not an HDR picture. not even close.

1. there is a large softbox to the left of the camera. it's close to the "About Us" to the bottom left of the image and it's pointing down at a 20-40 degree angle. note the shadow below the couch. it's not away from the window but going towards the window. the shadow would be going away from a window in a natural-light HDR.

2. the sun is just to the right of the building corner in center of the image. there is a small reflection on the window frame to the right. that means the window frame in the building corner (center in our image) should be darker and noisier. there should be a shadow coming away from the sun from the pillow in the armchair as well as from the armchair itself but there isn't. that means there is another softbox to the right of our image cancelling out that shadow. at the same time the candles at the very right end of the image do have a strong shadow like the one I would have expected from pillow, armchair and a few other such objects in the room.

3. even closer to the camera on the right is another large softbox. this one is angled up and exposing the ceiling. note the light leak on the table - that's way too white on wood to be natural. also note that while the lights are on, they're not even throwing a single spot line. it's completely cancelled out, not even a fragment. that means the ceiling has been light so strong that the amount of light all over it was very close to what the spots put out. you can see where the softbox doesn't reach by looking to the very top left corner of the image - suddenly there is a significant light dropoff behind the spots.

this is also why the coffee table is throwing absolutely no shadow - the ceiling acts as a giant softbox. it reflects.

4. sofa on the right has long softbox reflection (the reflection does not mirror the shape of any window pane while reflections on other windows do). I think that's the previously mentioned softbox to the left.

5. there is a patio and with that comes a chance to lay a dark mesh curtain over the outside of the windows. this is often used on film sets but it's hard work and you need a lot of equipment and hands, so I'll just assume this guy didn't do this.

in conclusion: not a HDR but a technically proficient photographer with professional gear. he/she could have used an art director to critique the photo. the conflicting shadows alone would have been grounds for a reshoot as far as this AD is concerned but I suppose the realtors don't give a shit.

HDR my ass. you can tell HDR's.
posted by krautland at 4:32 AM on April 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


oh great, now I see the main page and it claims "no lighting technology" but fails to explain what exactly is going on. perhaps they mean "you don't need lighting technoloigy because we have it" but I maintain I can see the damn reflections all over the place.

I would never work with a vendor that doesn't explain in satisfying details just how they produce the results they promise. (that's warren buffet's investment strategy.)

this smells fishy.
posted by krautland at 4:50 AM on April 28, 2009


krautland, I think you're right. Those shots are definitely lit, and lit well, but according to the guy I linked to, most of their shots aren't of the same quality, so they probably just use lazy HDR tone mapping for their non-premium clients.

Also:
in conclusion: not a HDR but a technically proficient photographer with professional gear. he/she could have used an art director to critique the photo. the conflicting shadows alone would have been grounds for a reshoot as far as this AD is concerned but I suppose the realtors don't give a shit.

Too true! I loled, massively.
posted by Magnakai at 5:39 AM on April 28, 2009


Thanks for the link. I liked being able to change over to the "Standard Digital" view; it's like first seeing the picture in the magazine, but then seeing what it looks like when you live there. Makes it real. Cool stuff.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:42 AM on April 28, 2009


Krautland, respectfully, I think you're partially wrong. These are pretty clearly HDR, in the sense that they are combinations of different exposures. What method they are using, I don't know, but take a look at some of the other sets on the site. Absolutely HDR composites, and they get tackier as they go. The first one is the most subtle.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2009


To keep everything perfectly rectilinear they might be using a tilt/shift lens or a medium or large format camera with movements or they might be using a wide angle lens and doing distortion correction in software.

I second krautland's comments, but want to add that they probably did do some processing in PhotoShop to tweak the image.
posted by gregr at 7:32 AM on April 28, 2009


I'll bet Vicaso folks have read this by now and are laughing at all the "experts" represented here.
posted by bz at 7:59 AM on April 28, 2009


I have worked for high-end architecture photographers as an assistant and I can assure you that is not HDR. Doing interior work like this involves a massive amount of planning and lighting. I'm sure there was a lot of PS involved (just like everything else these days) but you do not get hired to shoot this kind of work to fake it in post, you do it right the first time. There is no "trick" or magic filter to it, it's just careful lighting.
posted by bradbane at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your assurances leave me unmoved. One has to do no more than look at the comparison to judge that there are no lighting instruments present. The "digital" comparative shot appears to me to be one of the exposures from the HDR stack and is quite identical to the final HDR except for the exposure compensation. There is no change in the shadow directionality and virtually no time has elapsed as the sunlight shadows are in exactly the same positions as are the various reflections in the surfaces.

Beyond the comparison, the room would need to be quite massive to merely house the lighting instruments of a size sufficient to produce the soft and nearly global illumination of the final image.

Perhaps I will try to reproduce their results myself.
posted by bz at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2009


Doing interior work like this involves a massive amount of planning and lighting.

The company seems to be basing their whole reason for being on shooting these pictures with no lighting equipment. So either they're lying about their methods or their methods simply differ from your own experience. And they do state pretty clearly that they're using HDR.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:37 AM on April 28, 2009


It's a combination of:

1. HDR (check out that sixth image -- no possible way to get both the sky and shadow detail in the same shot)
2. extensive lens correction to make the verticals parallel (almost certainly done in software -- you can do this with a tilt-shift lens too, but if you're Photoshopping the hell out of it anyways, why not?
3. lots of retouching in Photoshop (note in the second pic how the floor in the shadow under the island is suspiciously blurry)
4. excessive sharpening (they sharpened the hell out of all the after pics)
posted by neckro23 at 4:05 PM on April 28, 2009


+n million HDR

Broken down it means this:

You take one photo for the darkest parts

You take one photo for the brightest parts

You take one photo for the medium parts

You stitch them all together in Photoshop - one photo for the windows, one for the couches etc.
posted by MesoFilter at 6:14 PM on April 28, 2009


krautland,

From their About Us page: "Founded in 2006, Seattle-based Vicaso, Inc. is the leading producer of High Dynamic Range Imagery." From their photographer/job application FAQ:

How do I shoot TrueView™ HDR images?

After submitting your application and completing new-account setup, you will be trained on the TrueView method. Simply follow this method of taking multiple exposures from a tripod. No lighting equipment, flashes, strobes, etc. are needed for TrueView.
posted by halogen at 10:16 PM on April 28, 2009


krautland, I think you're right. Those shots are definitely lit, and lit well, but according to the guy I linked to, most of their shots aren't of the same quality, so they probably just use lazy HDR tone mapping for their non-premium clients.

yeah, I think you are right. they do a few great manually-light shots and everyone else hiring them gets craptastic hdr images. sneaky fellas.

Beyond the comparison, the room would need to be quite massive to merely house the lighting instruments of a size sufficient to produce the soft and nearly global illumination of the final image.
disagree. two pro7's and a few large softboxes and you're set.

Simply follow this method of taking multiple exposures from a tripod.
and that's where I knew these guys were scammers. setting people up for failure is nasty.
posted by krautland at 5:40 AM on April 29, 2009


Your assurances leave me unmoved.

I'm sure you can spend hours in post getting it to look like that with careful HDR, but the vast majority of pro interior/architecture work is just good ole fashioned lighting. Honestly I think it would take less time to just light it to begin with then spending hours retouching and tone mapping to get it to look like you lit it, but to each their own. In my experience working on shoots like this it is 95% lighting 5% PS, but if these guys can market themselves as "omg digital" to their clients more power to them.
posted by bradbane at 2:36 PM on April 30, 2009


I'm sure you can spend hours in post getting it to look like that with careful HDR
that, sir, is a challenge. I would offer a wager but I've seen your work and am afraid you might win given eighty hours or so.
posted by krautland at 3:29 PM on May 10, 2009


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