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Outdoor Lighting Photography 101?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Summerscapes, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Summerscapes

    Summerscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    can anyone summarize key steps and rules of thumb for photographing outdoor lighting projects and demos...ie: manual settings, timing, lens', etc.

    I never got into photography much...but I'm gonna need to become darn near an expert to properly build my portfolio and marketing materials.

  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I would recommend you look for an amateur / novice photography course. Beyond understanding how your camera works, this will assist you to learn composition which is very hard to simply describe.

    Many better photography stores offers course, as well as continuing education programs and private learning centers (learning annex) etc.
  3. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    I understand the intimidation factor with an SLR camera. When I fist got it I was having a hard time making it take a simple picture. Lucky for me I have a very active photography club in my town. 2 months ago we had an nighttime field trip I was able to figure out what settings are a good place to start and then experiment out from there. I have a Canon Rebel I believe that is what you also have. Make sure you have a tripod. Set your "ISO" to 800, set your "TV" pretty short 0"3, set your "AV" to 5.6. You will probably want to take your camera out of autofocus. If your camera won't take a pic and gets all blurry it is because your autofocus is taking control. That was DRIVING ME CRAZY! Those are things that are hard to learn from the manual you just need someone to show you. My photography club's nighttime field trip was a lifesaver.
  4. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    Ned, I feel your pain. Know that you wil be using your camera in manual mode and there are no short cuts. The other have given you great advice, go to a class or join your local photo club. I had the fortunate opportunity to have a great friend who is a great photographer. So I got one on one help and spent alot of time practicing. Practice, practice, practice. You have alot of fun in the process.
  5. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 863

    or you can build a $100 fee into each job and hire a photographer who has way better equipment (ie lenses with 2.8 f-stop instead of our 5.6 or worse) to take your pictures for you, then he/she can email the files to you.
  6. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Wow, Grn Mtn... I don't know about where live, but around here you don't get much for $100. A top notch professional photographer, one who has knowledge and experience in shooting night time images of high contrast subjects, is bound to cost you a lot more then a couple of hundred dollars.

    The last time I inquired the cost for 10-12 8x10 pro images, taken on site by a real Pro, was several thousand dollars. This included a daytime visit to develop a shooting plan, the actual shoot over two evenings, the post processing and the printing of the images. The cost was such that it encouraged me to go out and purchase a complete Canon rig.

    There will be those unique, special jobs that you will want to hire a pro to shoot, but for the most part, a good quality digi-cam, with some good accessories, a rudimentary knowledge of image processing, and a decent photography course will suffice.

    Oh, and listen to Steve P. from CAST... He does a great job with his images!
  8. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Heck, you don't have to know anything about photography to get some decent shots. All you need is a tripod, and a point and shoot digital camera that has nightscene. Set the "-" in the nightscene down as low as possible and shoot. As one matures in the industry, at some point they will probably want to get a SLR camera. You can do a lot with a point and shoot and some type of photoshop software.
  9. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Besides being expensive to hire a photographer, 1) It is just easier to take the pics yourself when you finish your final positioning. Then you don't have to spend more time going back out to the site with someone else and etc. 2) Another problem is most photographers don't have much experience taking night shots of illuminated landscape and architecture. I think with a little bit of practice an outdoor lighting professional can be a better night time photographer than a lot of professional photographers.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    James is right, typical fee for a pro photographer that does nighttime photography is about $3,000 - and you're only guaranteed 2 or 3 good images.

    The fees are high for a reason, for professional quality suitable for high-end magazine publication the skillset and equipment cost is high. Still, having said that, amateurs can get decent results with study and practice.

    I find the biggest problem with lighting companies and their photos is that they tend to settle for mediocre to poor quality images of their projects. Project images are extremely important in communicating your knowledge, skill and design sense. Excellent images bring excellent jobs.

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