Interior shooting

Because I have the coolest camera around, I have been asked to make few pictures for the office. The pictures were supposed to show some advanced technological achievements in our boss’s house. This came to as an excellent photo opprotunity, so I agreed immidiately.

The first thing to do, I thought, was to talk to someone who will be using the resulting images. That happened to be our designer. He explained to me that there are few ideas floating in the air about some kind of booklet, which should show all the advanced technology Thunderworx can deliver, install, configure and maintain in the comfortable house. After talking to him some more, I arrived to the following conclusions:

  • Images will be used for printed media. That means I should finally test that RAW format to save what is savable.
  • It is pretty dark inside (he showed me few pictures taken before by someone else). Easy, I thought, I’ll go for the tripod and will see.
  • Pictures should have a point and hopefully a mood, not just a factual representations of the systems installed.

And so I went to the place. I was thinking that I have everything I need with me (Canon 300D, 18-55mm kit lens, tripod, a couple of charged batteries and all the storage I needed). 5 minutes after I arrived I realised that things are not exactly as easy as I was imagining them.

The first problem was light. All the technology is installed in few large rooms with a whole lot of windows. Some of these windows could be shuttered and curtained and some not. Open windows were giving a lot of reflections and unhealthy blueish colors. Trying to overlap it with electrical light turned out to be impossible, since their were many many small bulbs which were not producing any light at all. It was pretty dark. Not to worry I said and set up the tripod. 25 and 30 seconds shutter speeds while having all the lights on and bright daylight coming from the windows were a bit surprising. Trying to add some more light I tried to use an on-camera built-in flash diffusing it with Pringles white cover. Inventive, but didn’t help too much.

The second problem was mobility. I thought that if I cannot bring the light to the subjects, I will bring the subjects to light. Boom. Wrong. None of the subjects were movable. I had to shoot nicely done racks built into the walls and a couple of digital pads, which were pretty much wired to the place where they were installed. To add insult to injury, smaller subjects didn’t have enough space around them to properly install a tripod. So I played crouching tiger a bit to get used to it. When I started to get a hang of it, I discovered…

…the third problem – subjects. :) The purpose of the shooting was to demonstrate how nicely technology is incorporated into the house. And the strongest point of that particular technology is to be present everywhere and to be invisible in the same time. Racks are hidden in the walls, numerous remotes are replaced with a single digital pad, etc. Trying to photograph something that is supposed to be invisible is a bit, well, tricky.

After few hours I was pretty sure that I did everything I could and there is nothing else to be done. So I headed to the office, where I was about to find yet another problem. Software CDs that came with my Digital Rebel are hidden somewhere in the darkest part of house and nothing else is capable of reading and displaying RAW files. Internet should save they say, so I went for a search for some tool. Googling for few minutes showed that there are half a million options for a Windows RAW software but it is all commercial or very limited shareware. So much for the designer doing the adjustment work. Search for Linux tools immidiately turned out with a free and open source program called dcraw. It is very well documented and compiles nicely. It also converts RAW files into PPM. PPMs are then easily converted to TIFFs which were given to the designer.

The result is that there isn’t actually much to use. We will go over them tomorrow once again and we will see if there is anything worth shooting. If there is, we will go back and reshoot properly composed and lighted subjects. Until then…

P.S.: Unfortunately (or fortunately should I say) I cannot upload these images for your viewing pleasure (digust?) since they are pretty much company confidential. :)

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