Before & After Photos in Commercial Photography Work
The purpose of this post is to give you a peak behind the curtain at my before and after commercial images. It’s interesting to see the transformations and you can switch between the 2 images by moving the slider, taking note of what changes.
I’ll give you a variety of examples and discuss my thoughts on what was required for each photo as I go.
My Lighting and camera shots
First up just some insight into commercial lighting, I’ve got a variety of lights, gels, stands etc, and here you can see me with a wireless studio flash light and a beauty dish to direct and bounce the light where I want. Then in my left hand I have an ipad that gives me a live view of what the camera sees. I can control all the camera settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, shoot modes, even my EV all with the iPad. It’s a very “smart” way to shoot hehe.
…and just quickly I wanted to show how I shoot a variety of Exposure Values, so dark to light exposures. Then I use my big studio flash light to highlight any areas I want to pop! Then I can layer all these in Photoshop and with techniques I can pick and choose which parts I want from each exposure.
Before & After #1
Lets begin with what looks to be a dramatic change in the before and after, in fact they look like completely different buildings. But this transformation was a achieved with a sky replacement, a crop to cut out the neighbours houses as well as some cloning to remove things like street signs and fence wire in the foreground. This particular house is only half a block from the sea and you can stand on this balcony looking out over the ocean. It’s very impressive walking around it in real life and I wanted the photo to have a similar impact. I know that from this angle you can’t see the ocean, but it would work in a series of shots of the house to portray all its sides. The palm tree, the white facade, all have a very beach feel to them but when I was there to shoot the house the sky was so dull and boring so I later decided to do a sky replacement. It’s not a difficult process on a image like this where there’s fairly straight lines that I need to mask on the roof, but if there were trees and it was windy then it’s a nightmare! One thing I can strongly advise to anyone who tries a sky replacement, pick a sky that matches the time of the day your photo was taken. Don’t pick a sunset sky to go with a lunch time photo, it will just look weird.
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Before & After #2
I have to say I LOVE drone photography! I got the latest DJI Mavic 2 and I just can’t describe in words the feeling of having my lens in the sky. Everything is new, all the shapes and contours of the earth below are creations waiting to happen 🙂 In residential drone photography I find it’s a cross between landscape and architectural photography. You might say, Luke that’s obvious! You are shooting architecture in a landscape environment, but as a photographer you can go about both these genres with certain techniques and I find you need to utilise both sets of skills. You need to shoot at the peak moments of light, use your knowledge of perspective and understanding of light whilst placing your lens in the right place. When I edit my drone shots I use bracketed light to be able to control the light and dark areas of the photos. The Mavic 2 lets me hover the drone in one spot and fire off 3 or even 5 bracketed images. Which means I can then combine them in photoshop, it’s kind of like HDR (I know a dirty word in architecture photography) but in a manual way with luminosity masks (so not so dirty!). As you can see from the before and after 90% of this edit was about controlling the light!
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Before & After #3
This shot was meant to display my clients construction material in this modern cosmopolitan apartment. We wanted to show how people can appreciate the material and it in a thriving living environment, hence why I put in the runner. This apartment complex is also attached to a new IGA supermarket and the design theme continues all the way around. I love the contrast of the black tiles with the grey zinc cladding and then the other colours in the scene like the yellow highlights, deep blue sky and lush green tree.
The post-processing was extensive in the lower half of the image, if you look closely you can see I had to remove a car on each side of the image and then reconstruct the road, sidewalk and hedge. But the light was so nice and I got lucky with some beautiful wispy clouds on the day that I was able to use my architecture photography editing workflow for the post on this one.
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Before & After #4
It’s in situations like this where the light has a huge dynamic range that I shoot a full bracket of images all the way from light to dark. Editing this image was all about controlling the light in the dark shadows in this room and then bringing in all the details of the buildings from outside. Pay attention to the light changing near the chairs and TV screens on the right side of the image, it was here where I paid most attention when editing. It was actually a fun image to edit and I use a wacom pen and tablet! So it’s like drawing and painting, but with a digital brush 😀
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Before & After #5
This presidential hotel room is around $2,000/night and editing this shot was all about balancing the white marble and stone flooring with the warm hotel lighting. You see, hotels love pure white in their shots but when you have a million warm light globes in the room it makes it hard for the photographer to get clean whites! haha! When I can, I like to use a flambient method of editing hotel photos, which is a combination of flash and ambient light frames combined in photoshop. Flambient photos have a wonderful natural light to them, but in an instance like this where we already probably have too much light there’s no need for me to add any additional light to the scene. I don’t know if I’d pay $2k a night to stay here but it certainly was a nice room!
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