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steveparrott
04-24-2007, 05:32 PM
Just returned from a photo tour of the southwest - Utah, Arizona and Southern Cal. I found some great lighting design happening in the desert! I also had a chance to try out my new Canon EOS 5D - an awesome camera for landscape lighting!

Here's some samples: (more to come in our lighting gallery)

steveparrott
04-24-2007, 05:49 PM
Here's a couple more: (By the way, full credit will be given to the designers in the gallery.)

bumper
04-24-2007, 07:11 PM
whereabouts in So. Cal?

steveparrott
04-25-2007, 08:46 AM
San Diego area.

Chris J
04-26-2007, 07:35 AM
"I also had a chance to try out my new Canon EOS 5D - an awesome camera for landscape lighting!"


Steve, this camera you have, do you have to be photographically literate or is it basically point and shoot. I've been hiring professionals to do my work, but I could have purchased several very high-end cameras with the amount of cash I've shelled out over the years. The pictures look really nice, but are you an experienced photographer?

Thanks,
Chris J

steveparrott
04-26-2007, 09:32 AM
Chris,

Admittedly, I am a pro photographer with about 30 yrs. experience with all types of photography. Still, with a little guidance and practice even an amateur can get great photos. Having said that, however, some photoshop skill is essential.

For example, the first shot in this thread is a composite image of two seperate photos - one exposed correclty for the sky, the other for the structure and plants. Additional retouching corrected some overexposed areas in the plants. The intention is to render a final photo that most closely approximates what the eye sees.

Chris J
04-26-2007, 08:02 PM
I do agree that photo re-touching is necessary to replicate what is actually seen in real life. If I wanted to try some of this myself, what would you recommend I do first. Classes? Trail and Error? What Type of camera would you recommend?
As I have read on other posts, I am more on the elaborate end of things where I will spend the most money for the most expensive equipment in hopes to gain the most elegant results. Would you recommend this with photography, or would you recommend starting out with something basic until I learned the trade. (Given the fact that technology outdates itself every year with pretty much every thing else computer driven).

Thanks in advance for you guidance,
Chris J

steveparrott
04-30-2007, 09:37 AM
I do suggest getting the best camera you can afford. I have seen a direct relationship between the price of the camera and quality of the photo. This is especially evident with nighttime photography. If you expect magazine or poster-quality nighttime photos you'll need to spend at least $1,500.

You can, however, get a $4,000 camera and still get terrible photos. Certainly, some education is required. Many camera stores offer digital photography seminars. I also offer Landscape lighting photo seminars and you can PM me to find out more about those.

The key technical skill set is to learn how to manually control shutter speed and aperature. Also, how to shoot under the difficult nighttime conditions. And, how to work with the images in PhotoShop. You may want to contract out the PhotoShop work.

The key artistic skills are basic framing, perspective, composition and so on. It's good to have someone with a good eye critique your photos.

As for specific equipment reccomendations, I've posted two wish lists on www.bhphotovideo.com. On their home page, in the upper right corner, click 'Wish Lists". Then in the public wish list search box, put First Name: Steve; Last Name: Parrott. The two landscape lighting lists will come up. The 'A' list (my old kit) is under $2,000. The 'B' list (my current kit) is under $4,000.

Chris J
05-01-2007, 07:43 AM
Thanks for the info Steve. If I can ever get caught up on my installations, I just may take you up on your workshop.

Chris J

Pro-Scapes
05-01-2007, 09:25 AM
Chris,

Admittedly, I am a pro photographer with about 30 yrs. experience with all types of photography. Still, with a little guidance and practice even an amateur can get great photos. Having said that, however, some photoshop skill is essential.

For example, the first shot in this thread is a composite image of two seperate photos - one exposed correclty for the sky, the other for the structure and plants. Additional retouching corrected some overexposed areas in the plants. The intention is to render a final photo that most closely approximates what the eye sees.

Hey steve how about one of your great articles on photoshopping pics :)

Lite4
05-12-2007, 02:23 AM
I desperately need info on night photography, I suck at it. Also my camera is a piece of crap. Love the cactus, here is a photo of the front of a pool house in a southwest theme subdivision I designed. Can you believe this is Idaho. Cold hardy cactus and yucca from the high deserts of texas and nevada. Very limited lighting budget however.

Lite4
05-12-2007, 02:30 AM
few more pics, sorry about the glare in the eyes. Bad angle

Lite4
05-12-2007, 02:33 AM
one more, light appears hot in photo but like I said my photography skills suck. Light level is actually about right.

ChampionLS
05-12-2007, 01:57 PM
The Yuccas here in NJ survive -10 below. Great pictures otherwise.

To shoot night pictures, you need a tripod. You need to use a manual setting, where you can control the Aperture. This is great on most digital cameras, because you can see the results of your photos as you take them.
Some of the best pictures are in a 10 minute time frame, as the sun is going down. don't wait until complete darkness. When using manual mode, your flash is off, so the camera only captures natural light. You need to experiment with the F stop setting to get the right setting. Too long of a duration and your lights will appear hot and fiery. Too short and your shots will be dark and grainy. If you have a cheap camera, that doesn't have a manual mode, most DO have a landscape scene setting, or twilight mode. You still need a tripod, but your results will be better.

Lite4
05-12-2007, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the advice, I think I will look into a photography class as well as pick up a good digital SLR. Nice pics, What brand of flush mount well lights did you use. Nice looking install on the paver lights.

ChampionLS
05-12-2007, 10:17 PM
They are Evening Star brand Paver Accent Lighting. 4 watt/15,000 hour lamp modules. They are easily removed/replaced with a simple 1/4 turn cam-lock. Available in 10 colors. Shown here is Sesame in the above photo, and in the below photo Frost and Seaglass.

www.eveningstarlighting.com

Lite4
05-12-2007, 11:00 PM
I have not seen these before. very cool. How long have they been out on the market and what is the track record for longevity. Do you epoxy the light body into the paver? I would be curious to know pricing. let me know.

fireflylighting@cableone.net

steveparrott
05-13-2007, 06:15 PM
Firefly,

I can't say I agree with some of your advice. I don't like the nighttime settings on the new cameras because they either increase film speed (ASA) and hence degrade sharpness; or they combine a wide open aperature (poor depth of field and sharpness) and slow shutter speed (poor focus).

I shoot with minimum asa (100), long shutter speed (20 - 30 seconds) and f11 to f16 (for maximum sharpness). I also always shoot three exposures of every shot (1. at the setting indicated in the camera meter; 2. 1.5 stops below; and 3. 1.5 stops above.)

I used to be stuck to the 20 minutes around sunset time, but now shoot well into the night using extremely long exposures to pull detail out of the shadows. Of course those exposures burn out the lit areas so I take other exposures for those areas then combine them in photoshop with the shadow shots.

Here's another trick: As it gets dark, the contrast between the lit areas and the unlit areas gets bigger and bigger, resulting in shots with black shadows and skies. To counter this, I've cut round pieces of neutral density or diffusion gel just big enough to place on an MR-16 fixture. I'll put these gels on the MR-16's to dim their light to a point where details become visible in nearby shadows in the final shot.

Neutral density gels reduces the light without altering the beam. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/163141-REG/Rosco_E21011__210_Filter_6.html

Diffusion gel softens and reduces the light. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/163157-REG/Rosco_E21611__216_Filter_White.html.

You can also use the glass filters but that gets expensive.

steveparrott
05-13-2007, 06:26 PM
Tim,

I took a few minutes to show you how a little photoshop improves one of your pics. I darkened the sky a bit and put detail back into the palm to the right.

If you had supplied a longer exposure, I could have fixed the burned out sconces and wall lights also.

If I had a little more time, I would have also filled in dead grass and cleaned up the grass a bit. I'd have also adjusted the color making it less blue.

Lite4
05-13-2007, 09:54 PM
Wow Steve, that is a huge difference. Thank you very much for the advice I will try your recomendations. I have an older olympus 3.3 MP, It does allow me to do some manual shutter speeds. I have heard that it is your lens that makes all the difference in a quality picture. Any truth to this, or just words from someone who can't understand thier own camera? Also what version of photoshop would you recomend?

Pro-Scapes
05-14-2007, 08:04 AM
steve... can you take us into a new thread step by step on how you photo shopped this picture ? I know your busy or even better write a new article perhaps with screen shots of the process ? We are getting much better pics with the new camera but they still could use some work!

steveparrott
05-14-2007, 09:08 AM
Tim, you need at least an 8 mp camera to get print quality (300 ppi) 8 1/2" x 11" prints.

Yes, the lens quality is critical. Cheap lenses show pronounced color rimming in areas of high contrast. You'll notice this if you look closely at white areas of the photos - they are outlined in red or blue. Only a more expensive achromatic lens deals with that. Cheap lenses also suffer in clarity overall, especially near the edges. Cheap lenses can also get dust inside. They can also be difficult to focus properly and don't hold their focus when zoomed in or out.

As for a photoshop tutorial, sorry no time for that now. PM me if you want some individual help.

msouthard
06-11-2007, 06:44 PM
Here's a couple more: (By the way, full credit will be given to the designers in the gallery.)

Great pictures Steve, I think we will use those in our next catalog

mike southard
Kichler

NightScenes
06-11-2007, 06:56 PM
Hey there Mike!!! Good to see you on here.

msouthard
06-11-2007, 07:18 PM
Hey there Mike!!! Good to see you on here.

Good seeing you again Paul...you have some great ideas for AOLP, its very exciting.

PS I hope Steve knows I was kidding about using his pics in our catalog.....we would never do that...