Monday, July 5, 2010

Illuminating a Room (Intermediate)




My wife and I made our bed, and we laughed at how the bed would not look as nice next time.  So I decided to take a photo of it.  In the back of my mind were restaurant photos I had seen recently, like the ones here: http://www.bellagio.com/restaurants/michael-mina.aspx . It seemed like there were pools of light everywhere.


I tried to duplicate the look by using the flash on zoomed mode at 105mm (off-camera), but the effect was nowhere near as magical.  Here (one of several attempts) the light was in front of the bed, mounted on a tripod aimed at the pillows.


After thinking about it for a while, I thought one way to get the look of those restaurant photos was to use light painting (using a very slow shutter speed, then using a continuous source of light such as a flashlight to paint parts of the scene).  The only flashlight I could find was a weak LED flashlight. I wanted some ambient light in the image, and the flashlight was barely brighter than the ambient light.  I finally decided to use the SB-800's modeling light, which was perfect for the job in terms of light intensity.  To further enhance the lighting, I turned on the light in our bathroom to serve as the motivating light for the 'spotlight' on the pillows (i.e., the apparent logical source of light).


This was the shot I liked best.  Exposure was ISO 200, f/16, 6 secs.  Ambient was intentionally underexposed about 2 stops.  With one hand, I aimed the flashlight at the pillows, while my other hand used the SB-800's modeling light to blast light here and there.

I added some local tone mapping, and did some quick cloning to remove the visible flash. The final result was the shot above.  It looks ok to me in terms of lighting, though my cheap tripod couldn't keep the camera steady enough hence the blurriness.  I plan to do further experiments with light painting for real estate type shots.