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Architectural photography principles & Corona

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Hi all,

I thought I would create this thread to discuss how one might apply real photographic techniques to our renders as seen in the following link:

I'm at the point where I can confidently say I've got a good grasp of how to set up a 3D scene to emulate a physically correct "real world" environment (i.e sun + sky + interior lights)...but this got me thinking. If I were a photographer, I wouldn't just walk into a room, snap a shot with my SLR and go home - I would spend quite some time setting up strobes, reflectors, merging exposures e.t.c to control light in a very specific way. This wouldn't be fakery with Corona, it would be physically simulating real world pro photographic lighting techniques

This is something that I haven't ventured into yet in the 3D world as I haven't come from a photographic background, purely c.g, and secondly I haven't a clue where to begin learning about strobe placement, fill lights, when / if they are needed e.t.c.

Take the above image for example, I would have lit this scene with an HDRI environment to simulate sunlight + sky and corona lights for the chandelier lights and the fireplace, hit render, tweak the exposure / light compression and presto a physically correct image (oh it it were only this easy). However, according to the above article the image was made up of 8 exposures with sotfboxes, directional lights, a speed-light and a ceiling bounce light, then merged in photoshop - a whole other layer of lighting on top of my would be "physical" approach.

I am confident that Corona would work excellently with these techniques as I've never seen another render engine manage light quite so well.



--- Quote from: agentdark45 on 2014-01-07, 18:10:23 ---If I were a photographer, I wouldn't just walk into a room, snap a shot with my SLR and go home

--- End quote ---

No, that's exactly what you would strongly prefer to do if you were true architectural photographer photographing real Architecture. Like contemporaries Fernando Guerra, Iwan Baan, or anyone from this list and past legends like Julius Schulman. Not random Joe from wild-west suburbs of Tenesee.
That's considering the over-use of clique techniques, not the whole duration of shoot. Talking to few architectural photographers they all said they take around 4-10 photos in whole day of the building that actually make it in the end, yet the time isn't spent on meticulous setup of strobes and blending them in horrible HDR fashion.

The examples at the article are simply beyond disgusting.  Apart from truly eclectic and idiotic style of american suburbian dream houses, the actual photography is bland, over-saturated kitsch with no presence of light whatsover. All I see is "Look at this amazing marble ! It was so expensive, and this beautiful gold, wood, shiny...look at it,look! shiny !"

Ok, I had my hate and feel better. But the moment I see this type of "architecture" and its "photography" I rage-quit. It's worse than wedding photography, I can't even choose what I hate more.

The fact is, that literature on Architectural photography is close to non-existent. It's extremely sparse, and mostly outdated in technical fashion although principles don't change.
The good info out there, that has to be connected from some old books by Schulman to interviews with the current best photographers grasp altogether different concept than simply placing flash lights around scene in random fashion. Portraying the soul and life of the space, from shapes to detail, in meaningful composition.

With that said, artificially lighting space is science almost of its own, and those who truly master it, don't share a slightest know-how. They just don't, it's small market and the know-how is valuable. It's only those whose work is beyond horrible who share freely like the people in article. American real-estate my ass...vomit inducing.

Check this video from making of catalogue shots for italian brand of furniture. This is just shot for MarieClaire magazine, not the ultra-glamour shots of catalogues like Poliform, which take months to set-up, but you can see the effort in how they do lighting and post-production.

But you touch the right subjest that "photorealistic" lighting does not necessary mean "attractive" lighting. But the article just gives the worst solutions on worst examples.

Really complicated subject, not discusses often at all on archviz foras. It will, foremost continue to be on each person's experimentations.

Thanks for your input Juraj, it was much appreciated! It's good to hear that using zillions of strobes aren't a necessity. I agree that the pictures in the link aren't appealing (I was just trying to give an example of certain photographers using complex lighting set-ups - as you noted there aren't many links discussing decent lighting set-ups for interior photography).

I checked that vid out a while back, very interesting to see how they artificially lit the scene - this also goes to my point of artificial "realistic" light vs a "real world" lighting set-up, so far I've only got to grips with the real world stuff. I've noticed that in your previous (amazing) renders you tend to keep things fairly straightforward and "realistic" (i.e no huge hidden fill lights anywhere)...just a really good balance between the interior and exterior lighting.

I'll check out some stuff by Schulman, thanks for pointing me in the right direction - feel free to post up any other links! This is such an interesting topic, and like you said most of the things I've come across on Google are quite outdated.



--- Quote from: agentdark45 on 2014-01-07, 21:17:01 --- I've noticed that in your previous (amazing) renders you tend to keep things fairly straightforward and "realistic" (i.e no huge hidden fill lights anywhere)...just a really good balance between the interior and exterior lighting.

--- End quote ---

Well, with the recent projects, yes, I've simplified it to almost nothing (but I spend lot of time trying to find that solution each time, going though 10+ variations at minimum) but I did experiment with almost every possible setup. I've often used before softboxes behind camera, atleast one or two, one pointed at ceiling and one pointed at wall behind, both acting as fill-lights.
But I took great care to make them as weak as possible, so they never clash with the natural light, only fill the scene. But I mostly moved away from this.

At current commerical projects I also use directed light from side to accentuate furniture, but that's because the focal point is furniture, not architecture. I would never use directional light in architecture, because it would clash or overcome the natural light, which always looks the best, since the architecture is built around it.

I just went back to the website and realized that while the article is shitty just like work of its author, there is very good discussion going on and some pretty decent profesionnals chime in, esp. like the guy from London discussing the differences in architectural and real estate (2 different stuff) photography in USA and Europe. Absolutely agree with him. He pretty much highlights absolute understanding of light as crucial as opposed to over-corrected images with bunch of strobes and blended layers. The flashy tacky stuff just reigns supreme in US and I don't believe they will ever learn some form of taste whatsoever.


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