Craig Lamson

I would like to introduce Craig Lamson.  Craig has been a professional product photographer for over 3 decades.  Craig has done it all and I encourage you to check out his website for the best product photography you'll ever have the privilege of viewing.  Often times I can spend a great amount of time viewing just one of his images and learning while observing how he uses light.  Craig is a master of light, and I'm afraid that is an understatement. If you've ever wondered who I go to when I have a question you now have your answer.

 

 

Take FOUR...make ONE

 

The Problem

Shoot a RV interior photograph on location, in the clients factory, with a minimum of lighting gear.

 

The Solution

Shoot the interior in four segments and assemble the images in Photoshop to create the final image.

 

Professoinal Lighting Example

 

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Creating a quality illustration of a RV interior is an exacting and sometimes frustrating process.  After finding the required camera angle, selecting the lens, and styling the interior, the biggest problem is creating a lighting scheme creates a mood and showcases the features that make the RV special.  When working in the studio where power and equipment are readily available it is not uncommon to use 10 to 20 different studio lights to create the desired effect.  This can be a time consuming process, often taking many hours of time to position each light correctly.

Creating a quality lighting scheme on location is a completely different animal.  First you need to transport all of your gear to the location. Second, amply power is often a problem.  In the studio , using tungsten lighting I can often use up 200 amps of power on 10 or more discreet circuits. It is very rare to find this much power available for use in a factory setting.

With these limitations in mind I began my search for a lighting scheme that would showcase the RV interior while using a minimum of lighting fixtures and power.  My solution was the 4 to 1.

The setup is quite simple.  I am using large diffusion panels to create a soft lighting effect and have placed a single 650w tungsten light behind each panel.  The panels (or single panel) is placed as far forward in the set as possible so that a decent "shadow side" is created to give depth to the cabinet doors etcetera.  In addition I am placing a 420w spot near the camera and bounced off the ceiling for additional fill.  In the case of the example above I have also placed two small 200w spots in the distant bedroom bounced off the ceiling.

With the lighting defined the shooting is simple, shoot one side, move the lights, shoot the other side, move the lights, shoot for the ceiling (one light bounced off a panel on the floor) and shoot the floor (one light bounced off the ceiling)

 

The Pitfall

This process works best if you can shoot tethered to a computer outside the RV so you don't have to touch the camera.  If the camera moves between images it can really mess up the assembly process in Photoshop.  In the same vein, you must be very careful not to touch or move the camera while working inside the RV moving lights. It's not impossible to assemble a series of images where the camera has moved but it's a royal pain and should be avoided at all costs if possible.

 

The Assembly

This is pretty easy. You simply process your raw files, open them in Photoshop and layer them.  Then you simply use a soft edged erasure brush and erase the portions of each layer to create the final image.  If your camera did not move, each image will match pixel for pixel.

After the basic assembly and before you remove barrel distortion, CA and adjust your verticals  you might need to go into your composite and lighten or darken selected areas by processing variants of your different raw files and layering them into your composite to achieve your desired effect.

This method is a real time saver on location because the lighting setup is quick and simple.  However, in the end it's really a wash, time wise, compared to detailed studio lighting due to the additional time spent in Post Production.

Craig Lamson is a professional advertising photographer with over three decades of experience.  His work can be viewed at: www.craiglamson.com