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Shoot: Capturing A Wide Establishing Shot

Lesson 7 from: Intro to Architectural Interior Photography with Natural Light

Scott Frances

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Lesson Info

7. Shoot: Capturing A Wide Establishing Shot

Lesson Info

Shoot: Capturing A Wide Establishing Shot

Always a good idea to start with a big shot first, so that you know what your styling is, so when you break it down into smaller shots you have a continuity between those shots. But before we do anything we're going to take cell phone pictures of the way we found this room, so that we can put it all back. Critical that you put everything back where you found it. So first I make decisions about what I wanna see, like through a room or through the hallway and once I know where it is, so in this case, you know, I wanna see that window through the room there. I wanna see a reflection of downtown Manhattan in the mirror there. I wanna see the orange door at the end of this hallway because your eye will travel to that orange and there's, it also, this is a white room, but there are some color elements, and that's an important part of it. So we don't wanna lose sight of that. So you know if I'm here I lose the blue and yellow in that room. If I'm here I lose the orange down the hallway. So I ...

need to be here and I see them both, and now I wanna figure out the height in the room. We talked about what the viewer's experience of the room and that they be, your photograph be taken from a place that's really comfortable experience that that viewer's has had in their life, and that tends to be in a room full of chairs, the height of a chair. Fortuitously, that also happens to be the height of my camera with no legs extended. So then I'm gonna-- Put the camera there. I look right over the lens. And there we have it. One thing I like to do is to put the camera as far back as I can. I often want to anyway. So I'll lean it back. I'll extend the lens there. I will have not looked through the camera even once, and then I switch over to live view. The first thing is to level it. The level is, they're one through the viewfinder, but there's also one here. So that gets us closer to the horizontal level and then we've got this geared head, tripod head, that makes it, you can control it perfectly. Here's the vertical level, and we're on there. This is not the time to get it exactly level. You want to get it very close because we also want this shot to be square onto the back wall. We can see that there's, the horizontal lines are converging. So we're gonna turn the camera so that it's parallel to the wall we're shooting at, and you can see that the horizontal lines are starting to become parallel to the edge of our frame. It's very close now. Close enough. Obviously we have to focus, just like you have a great focus through the back of the camera, that you can do a great focus here in the live view. So-- In shooting architecture, in shooting rooms, what's important to be in focus is the skeleton of the room. You don't wanna focus on the tassel here in the foreground and everything else goes soft. You want the tassel to be out of focus, and you want the further thing to go soft. The, it's in this case, I would I say that this pillow is a good place for your plane of focus. We can see it's out of focus. I'm gonna control it here at the lens. It's perfect. This is showing you an F stop that's wide open. We're gonna not be wide open. So we're gonna have increased up the field from what you're seeing here. But even at the furthest points of this photograph it's in focus, and here at the nearest point of the photograph it's out of focus, which is a good thing. We wanna go past that. Your eye will always go to the sharpest part of the photograph, and since we're looking to create depth we want something soft in the front, and sharper as we go through the photograph. So I'm gonna make this a little bit darker for a sec and so that I can see the ceiling line, 'cause that's the most evident horizontal in this room. And I'm gonna pull up a grid line here. So again, I'm using Canon Capture. We'll go to compose. I'll go show grid, and now we'll go to show guides. There's our guides. I'm gonna take that guide and we're gonna put it right, right there along the ceiling line, and it's very close, if not on it. But you'll notice I can also control you know the brightness here at the lens. So we've got the camera in the right place. We can, we see the blue and yellow wall through that room and over here if we brighten the exposure you could see the orange door back here and that's, those were important decisions to me, and then in terms of another thing I brought up was of course the height of the camera to be comfort level of the viewer, and then the city outside. What is the reflection of the city? Now, I've stopped down so that we can see what that is and you see some of the city here. This is a very important building here in New York, a very recognizable building. I think it's the old manufacturer Hanover Trust building. I could be wrong about that. But it's an emblematic building in the city. Because the camera is very low, it's getting cut off my mullion. So, we may have to make a decision here between-- Maybe we can fudge it, where the experience the viewer has in the room, maybe we can lift the camera a little bit, without losing that feeling, and by lifting the camera a little bit we'll be able to see more of that building. 'Cause that's also an important thing. It's not as important as the experience of the viewer but maybe we can get both. So I'm gonna lift the camera, and I'm gonna watch as I do it. And right about there, I wouldn't go further than that. You can see-- You can see this ottoman in the foreground. It's starting to slide under the lens. It's starting to get a little bit distorted. So, and even here, it feels like you're a little bit high on this table. But you can tell we're seeing the top of the chair here. So, we know we're above the chair. So we're gonna double check. Now I'm gonna stop down again and we're gonna double check. Did that help that reflection of that building? So let's zoom in. There it is. It's a little better. You see the full top of the building, and now it would help if I moved the camera just slightly this way. And now you see it, and you also see one thing I hadn't noticed, that's been, it's great, the New York harbor here, the water. So by going up a little higher, we're able to see a iconic New York building. We're able to see the water that's critically important. This is a, the story of this apartment is the view of New York and the being on New York harbor here. To take shots and to see out the window and to not see New York City or see New York harbor, you've missed the shot. So now the question is, am I willing to go even a little higher, maybe just a nudge? Maybe just a nudge, so let's try it. That's it. I'm not going higher than that. And let's just for argument's sake see if that helped us. We can see that's a really good view of this building. We're gonna scroll over and we're gonna see New York harbor. We're even gonna see some boats in the distance. See some trees, that's nice. All right, so I think the camera's in the right place. And now we're gonna talk about styling and composition and how they go hand in hand. So, also by the way, we're very close here. We talked about, so now's the time to level in. So I don't know if you can see that level there but we've put the camera where we want it to be. But what are we seeing in the lens? Do we wanna see more left? Do we wanna see more right? Do we wanna see higher? Well, I wanna see more left. There's a lot of window here, and we don't need all this window. There's an important part of this room here which is the dining table, and this cabinet, and the sense that there's a hallway here and that this is a freestanding wall. So because this is a view camera lens we can shift without turning the camera, just to prove the point. You know, this lens could shift all the way over here. The camera hasn't moved. Basically the way the tilt shift lens works is there's a very large image circle and much wider than the size of your capture area, the sensor. So you're moving the image circle around and moving, and in so doing you're moving your sensor to a different part of that image circle. So it's like you have a giant picture and we're just gonna use that part of it. And that's a little, so we're seeing now more of the table. It's part of the narrative. There's dining here. It's, there's the cabinet. There's storage. There's the kitchen table behind it. I'm gonna raise it up a little bit. And that's, that's it. That's where I wanna be. Something I do frequently is double check my focus especially when I'm moving the lens like that. See? We moved the focus. It's a good thing we double checked. I urge all of you to double check, especially just before you shoot, and now we're going to enhance the composition by furniture placement. Sometimes you wanna take things in or out of a shot. But in this case, it's an architect's home. It's perfectly curated. There's nothing that, no need to take anything out. It's beautifully styled. So some of the things that interest me here would be that this chair feel a little bit smaller. I don't like this yellow throw in the foreground because again you want a dark foreground. So the yellow throw stops your eye. So by, just by taking it away, and I have Ryan here who's gonna help us do some things. Can you take this away, Ryan? Already your eyes move further into the photograph. I also want to create a little more space under this ottoman here and so I'm gonna move the ottoman away from me and that does a good thing in that it makes it feel less distorted, because you feel distortion when objects run underneath the camera. Objects always run over the camera. Ceiling lines, and window lines. But there's, there are very simple geometries, so they never look distorted. It's a ceiling, it's flat, it's a line, as opposed to a chair or an ashtray or a lamp. Those are things we already have drawn a picture in our minds. We know what a plate looks like. We know what a chair looks like. Therefore we know when it's distorted. So Ryan if you can move the ottoman away from us about six inches? Thank you, that's towards the table. That's not bad. Bring it back an inch or two to me. Ryan, the leaf that's pointing towards the window swing it around a little more to the back, and we, just stop. That's great, that looks great. So what we've done there is clean up the juxtaposition where this leaf crossing this sculpture here. That also, everything reads better, but it also creates another shape here. It creates this negative shape, and that in and of itself is a nice object. Now this chair, we'd like to make this chair smaller. And we also, I don't love the way it's crossing, this leg is crossing in front of the next chair. So Ryan could you move the chair away from the window six inches? And could you move it away from the chaise here? That's a little too much. Awesome. And that looks nice. So just zooming in again I see, I think, so you have to zoom in and see all these details. Don't love this little leg picking up here. I don't also this is something you always wanna watch out for. The line of this chair into this, the line of the far chair into the line of this chair. That's confusing. So Ryan move the chair slightly to the window. Slightly. Yeah, that's enough. Pull back a little bit, I wanna, that's a little tight there. Just an inch away from the window. We want it slightly-- That's too much. Go back to the window a tiny amount. That's eh, no, that last nudge was a little too much. Sorry. Eh, that's it, perfect. I, as it turns out, I actually have decided I'm going to move this table slightly because the bird's a very beautiful thing. The architect made this table. It's a very, very special piece. This bird's gonna read a lot better if it's a white wall behind it. So Ryan can you gently and pick it up so you don't scrape the rug? Just move it a little bit away from the window, I'd say two and a half inches. There, beautiful. The table can rotate slightly counter clockwise. Look down on it like a clock, and that gives us a better profile on the bird. We're gonna move this chair again, because this, so decisions were made here. The most important thing for me now is to maintain the bird's silhouette on the white wall. So-- I think we're gonna pull the chair away from the window. It's gonna open up this line here, about two inches. Stop. One more inch, tiny amount. Let me see that. Excellent. The chair silhouette's on this wall. You can walk behind it here. The bird silhouette's on this wall. You walk around this chair. This isn't distorted in the foreground anymore and we've cleared up this leaf in relationship to the sculpture in the background. We talked about a foreground, a middle ground, and a background. We could argue that this is the foreground, the chaise, and the middle ground is this chair, and the background is that room beyond. We can create another layer here. We have it. The chaise is right here. It's not only gonna be a foreground layer. It's gonna be dark. It's gonna be a foreground. It's gonna be out of focus, and it's gonna be tactile. It's this beautiful silk. So it's gonna get, you can feel it. The viewer's gonna really have a sense of what, 'cause it's a nubby fabric. So I'm gonna help you move that. So you go to that side of the chaise and we'll walk this, we'll walk this about three inches that way. Just straight in or towards-- Yeah, this way. All right, so the other important thing for me, there will be some more finessing with styling like we would wanna really look closely what's going on in here. I mean there's a loose book cover here. There's a painting on the wall here, and that's another room beyond that we're gonna clean up. There's a, so there's a book behind the plant. Can you just pull it out to one side or the other? Either towards the window, yeah, just towards the window or away from the window. You can see it's-- I think it's better the other way. Yes, not too much. There, that's nice. So a little peak. You can bring it towards the vase? Small thing, but the bottom book is, the title's upside down. So the white book has to flip around. That's good. Excellent. Yup, that's good. All right, so again, shaping with light. There's too much light in the foreground of the shot. We have a large window over here. We're gonna hang a black cloth, a black plastic. we're gonna darken the half of the window that's nearest me, the half of the window that is throwing a lot of light onto this chair, onto this table. Our eye will travel further back into the photograph. So-- Yeah. Yeah I'm gonna move those things. We have everything-- You have to be very careful when you do this. We're gonna move objects away from the window. Ryan, let's lower it two thirds of the way. Never slide an object, always pick it up. So now we're gonna do the black plastic. We're gonna block out the first half of the light in the room. This is a good situation for us to do this with. This is a roll down shade. So rather than having to get up on the ladder and like tape plastic to the window we're gonna clip it onto here. We're gonna do it carefully so that the clip doesn't put a dent in this fabric. So-- Let's come over here. Why don't you go in? Do you have clips? Yup, on my hips. Do you have that cardboard? Yup. This one. Take your time doing this. You'll be at the end of that thing. Do you wanna go all the way to the end of it? No, come to me actually. I'm using a little cardboard to protect it, extra protect it. Do you need the cardboard? Is it good? It's good? Yup. Should we give him two or just one? Just one. Ryan's gonna lift the curtain. I'm gonna stay here. Make sure everything goes nice and smoothly. And you can see the far side of the room's gonna get lighter but this side of the room won't. That's good. Is it good? That's good. And that's worked for us quite a bit. So I hope that's all evident to everyone here, nice falling into the shadows. Getting brighter and brighter. Now, we can't get this hallway any brighter. What we can do is expose for it, a very, very long exposure, and we're gonna bring that in in post production. So you'll see it here in live view, that there's a lot of light down here now. So we'll, this is at-- 1.6 seconds. So we're gonna bring, when we shoot our bracket, we're gonna go at least that far, and we're gonna have this element, and we're gonna merge that into our final shot.

Ratings and Reviews

chris cooper

This class was great! I think some of the reviewers are too inexperienced to realize the value of the information that was presented here. This is not an overly technical course but instead a course that helps you create a vision as an architectural photographer and that is priceless information. You can learn the techie stuff elsewhere but here you are getting into the mind of how one of the best interior photographer thinks. His years of experience are distilled into a great course. I have taken week long courses $$ with other architectural photographers and they were great too, but at $39 this was the best investment I have made into my career. To me as a working architectural and interior photographer with 15 years experience I was able to review my workflow and create a better and clearer vision for my work. It was inspiring. Thank you Scott!!


I really enjoyed watching the Great Master give some of the insight of his craft. Scott's thoughtful commentary and relaxed but very professional presence made this course captivating from start to finish and inspired me to continue a great deal. I saw a couple of glitches here and there and a few seconds of blacked out screen where Scott was talking about a 10 hour shoot day in order to capture a program of images. It would have been great to see what was meant to be showed instead of black frame. I wish there was a little bit more and Nicole would expand on correcting Selective Perspective as this is very interesting to me. Other than these minor points I thought it was a great course and well worth it to me.

Melissa Lind

Phenomenal class. This answers so many questions that I've had for years. I feel like I've been working in a vacuum and this reassures me about the perfection I seek in a shot. I could feel the minute adjustments with styling bringing each picture's refinement to the level of fine art that many people may be able to appreciate but are unable to achieve on their own. A well honed skill set. So thankful for the unveiling of industry secrets that have been developed over a lifetime career. Stunning work Scott, the human element that you craft is inspiring; your eloquence is inspiring.

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