Ugly Hedgehog - Photography Forum
Home Active Topics Newest Pictures Search Login Register
Advice from the Pros
Would like some pro advice photographing gates
Page 1 of 2 next>
Feb 5, 2018 00:50:59   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
I consider myself an advanced amateur and I've become stumped by my latest project: a series of gates.
I've attached 3 photos of gates. You'll notice a lot of detail work went in to making the gates and I'd like that to be more evident in the photos. Something like these will be hung in a guest bedroom, 8 x12, or whatever my wife decides.
Now the problem: how to photograph a gate and make the photo about the gate and its detail? It's kind of like shooting a lace veil and trying to de emphasize the bride.
I tried using a f1.2 lens to blur the background, but it's an old portrait lens and softens my gates. Would you recommend using a flash or large reflector to separate the gate from background? Spend some hours separating the gates with the pen tool in PS, mask and blur filter on the background? Perhaps shooting at night with a flash? If so, straight on or what angle? Unlike real estate, which I've done, gates aren't like a living space, they hold stuff in or keep folks out which is the foundation for the project.
I thank you in advance for your thoughts.

Anthony


(Download)


(Download)


(Download)

Reply
Feb 5, 2018 10:28:28   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
Anthony! Thanks for posting you question and you photographs. GREAT QUESTION!

The best image of the gates that you have posted is the 2dn image due to the back/side light which provides good specular highlights and exceptional separation and texture and the camera angle has provided a less busy or cluttered background. The other shots, the gates are not as well defined in that the lighting is a bit flat and non directional and the color of the gate is blending in with the landscape behind it.

One of the most important elements in successful architectural or structural photography is photographing the subject at a TIME OF DAY when the light is best to define the texture, shape, lines and details of the subject. When we photograph a subject in the studio, even a large item like a car, we can move the lighting and the subject to accomplish the best dimensionality, separation, texture and background management. Obviously, we can't move a stationary subject so we need to consider the direction of the light at various times of day and explore the best camera position to take advantage of the lighting and provide a background that will provide better definition and separation of the main subject.

Here's the lighting theory: It's called ANGLE OF INCIDENCE- the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. OK- this technobabble boils down to; when the light is striking the subject at an angle between 90 and 135 degrees to the camera subject axis, the specular highlights are more defined and intense- those are the highlights that do the trick! In portrait work or still life commercial product work we call this "kicker" or rim lighting- out of doors we try to simulate this effect on structural subjects.

As I mentioned, the best shot here is the WHITE gate but the lighting scenario I am suggesting works well on all colors- even shades of BLACK.

The next element to address is the background. If you fined that the gatt is blending into the background, regardless of the lighting, the next step is to explore various camera positions. A lower angle may enable you to use the sky or lighter colored foliage as the backdrop. A higher angle may reveal a nice patch of grass. Moving side to side may yield a more beneficial part of the landscape

Finding directional light is easier in the early part of the day before noon and in the late afternoon. The light at those times of day is warmer- more on the red/yellow side, however you automatic white balance or a custom white balance will compensate for that that.

Filters? A polarizing filter may darken the sky or improve color saturation but is more likely to diminish the needed reflections, those great specular highlight that we are looking for. Polarizers will not kill reflections from metallic surfaces, however, assuming the gates are painted, the paint job is non-metallic.

Flash: It is possible that an off camera flash, placed at the aforementioned angles to the camera/subject axis can, theoretically, produce the needed highlights. Problem is, you would need a very powerful flash to be effective in daylight conditions at the distanced need to place the flash far enough out of the field of view and to cover the expense of the gates you show in your pictures. To enable the depth of field you need to properly render a large area of fencing in acceptable focus will require a fairly small aperture- that's where a regular speedlight probably won't cut it on a wide and far away shot. Even if you have the power, you will need a radio trigger system to synch the flash at long distances. Available light is you best bet.

There are other kinds of natural light that may work as well. Oftentimes a cloudy bright day will still provide some directional lighting.

Shooting at night, in my opinion, would not be as aesthetically pleasing unless there was a great deal of decorative or practical artificial light. If you intend to use the images for advertising, a brochure, showroom display, portfolio a website, the aesthetics are important and you want to feature the gate in nice and relatable environments and define the design and the craftsmanship in the ironwark at the same time.

Perspective: When shooting from low or high camera position, especially with a wide angle lens or wide angle zoom setting, you can run in to some distortion which would cause the structure to seem that it is falling forward or backward or is elongated of foreshortened. This can easily be avoided by simply keeping the camera parallel to the vertical lines of the structure rather that tilting it up or down and then croppin out too much sky or ground in editing. If you do a significant volume of this kind of work, you may want to consider a PC (perspective control) lens. I do not see any distortion issues in you images so you are on the right track with you existing gear.

Lens shade: When working with back or side lighting, it is especially important to use a lens shade to avoid light from striking the lens thereby causing flare. Flare can cause loss of contrast or at total kinda "white out" of the image.

Bracket your exposures. One you establish the best light and camera position, make a number of bracketed exposures to make certain that you have a file that is easily printable or displayable with a adaquette detail in the highlight and shadow areas. With ironwork or darker painted structures, shadow detai is somewhat more important. Even if the background is slightly "hot" or overexposed, it may serve to create more separation.

If you get a chance to observe the areas as the gates are being constructed, you can get a good idea of when best light occurs. In the mid-afternoon the sun is beginning to set more slowly. As you get in close to sunset, you may only have a few minute to capture the best lighting effect. When using back/side lighting, you can employ you flash to provide a touch of fill in light. Sometimes, even just a wink of flash will bring up the shadow detail.

I hope this helps. I will try to create a basic lighting diagram and post it later on in the day.

Ed

Reply
Feb 5, 2018 10:54:54   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
Diagram



Reply
 
 
Feb 5, 2018 11:09:18   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
Even with this quick I -phone edit darkening the image, the shape and design of the gate still stands out.



Reply
Feb 5, 2018 12:24:33   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
Thank youMr. Shapiro!
I will visit some of these gates at different hours . I’ll try to set up a flash to side light some of these scenes but I suspect I won’t have enough power to light some of the larger gates. I’ll see if a reflector from the side might add some light also. I really appreciate the time you’ve invested in this project.

Reply
Feb 5, 2018 20:25:23   #
rgrenaderphoto Loc: Hollywood, CA
 
Consider the angle when you frame the shot. #2 and #3 would fram better if shot from a lower angle. Shadows: #1 has too many dark shadows that hide detail and draw the eye instead of to your main subject the gate. Take the shot when the light is best for your photograph.

Reply
Feb 5, 2018 20:44:06   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
Anthony! A reflector is a very good idea. I sometime make a really big one out of a couple of hinged sheets of 4x8 (foot) foam board covered with crumpled and re-expanded aluminum foil or some of that think foam insulation material with the layer of foil already on the surface. Those things can redirect sunlight for quite a distance. A few weeks ago, I shot a fashion job out of doors and brought in in reflected sunlight for across a wide street- had to be 50 or 60 feet away. Good thing is, that material is very inexpensive.

I hinge them like a dressing screen and they can be used flat or in a "V" shape to concnetrat the light. The rig can be used for main of fill lighting. It's better than flash because you can see the exact effect you are going to get. If I am working alone, I lash it to a heavy light stand or usually have an assistant to keep in it place- it's lightweight so it can blow down. Gutter tape makes for good hinges.

Good luck and thanks for the come-back!

Reply
 
 
Feb 5, 2018 23:52:51   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
rgrenaderphoto wrote:
Consider the angle when you frame the shot. #2 and #3 would fram better if shot from a lower angle. Shadows: #1 has too many dark shadows that hide detail and draw the eye instead of to your main subject the gate. Take the shot when the light is best for your photograph.


Thank you R. Two problems are shadows from neighboring trees, and more complicating, one can see the other side which makes isolation difficult.as I said earlier , I’m going to try some different times and maybe a reflector.

Reply
Feb 5, 2018 23:54:20   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
Once again thanks. I’ll go to OSH and buy some material. I’ve actually always wanted an excuse to make one!

Reply
Feb 6, 2018 10:54:04   #
TheStarvingArtist
 
In any photo you want your subject to stand out from the rest of the photo. There should be one main focal point that draws the eyes directly to it. IN the second photo you have a tree to the right of the gate. This draws my eye away from the gate. The empty spade to the right of the tree also draws my eye away from eh gate. Try cropping out the empty space and part of the tree, or crop out the tree all together. This will keep the eye looking at your main subject.

Reply
Feb 6, 2018 13:36:45   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
TheStarvingArtist wrote:
In any photo you want your subject to stand out from the rest of the photo. There should be one main focal point that draws the eyes directly to it. IN the second photo you have a tree to the right of the gate. This draws my eye away from the gate. The empty spade to the right of the tree also draws my eye away from eh gate. Try cropping out the empty space and part of the tree, or crop out the tree all together. This will keep the eye looking at your main subject.


You’re absolutely right. I was even thinking of cropping to just the bee, and losing the gate entirely. You’re point about filling the frame with my intended subject is really good. Thank you

Reply
 
 
Feb 6, 2018 18:42:25   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
I am pleased that this thread has turned out to be very interesting and the mentors that have contributed, have brought up some very good points. One would not think that a post about photographing gates would would be rather mundane, but this goes to illustrate that good photographic technique and artistry can call interest to the beauty and value of commonplace things that we see every day and how the “eye” of a creative photographer can envision,portray and interpret things.

So...photographing theses gates can be challenging in that the photographer needs to find a angle where the background is managed whereby it can provide color mass and separation without blending. This angle or camera position also has to address the compositional elements of leading the viewers' eyes to the main subject or motif of the image. Things like foreground framing come into play. Sometimes there may be compromises as to which of theses elements are more important and sometimes we can get everything to come together.

Surprisingly, the “fences” brought me 3 PMs asking a few questions The big one was why I did not advise the use of flash at night?

As a commercial product shot, the maker of the fences wants to show his work in a typical environment that potential customers can relate to; houses, gardens and other locations where decorative ironwork is desirable and gating is required. To light up a sizable area and enable an aperture that would provide sufficient depth of field, the photographer would need to employ “BIG FLASH”, that is very high powered units rated at between 800 and 4800 watt/seconds. To provide both off camera axis and fill lighting, perhaps 2, 3 or more units would be required- with multiple lamp heads, radio triggers and or very long high voltage extension cables. This is not the kind of gear the average photographer has on hand, especially if the are not a full time professional. There are other flash methods like “open flash and and painting with light” where the shutter is set at “Time- the shutter is opened and the photographer or an assistant quickly moves around the area manually flashing various segments of the field- the the shutter is closed. God only knows the common aperture setting until extensive metering and testing is done. Been there- it ain't fun, can be very tedious, lots of trial and error and results can be erratic.

If indeed a night shot was required as in a case where there is decorative outdoor existing lighting, an illuminated fountain, a fancy garden, or something like a festive environment like a gate or ironwork on an outdoor restaurant patio, it would be best to shoot at the “magic hour” after sunset when the sky is not black yet and use contentious 3200˚K. (tungsten) and white balance for that. The structure color will be accurate, the decorative or colored lights will fall where they may and the sky will go to a very deep blue!

I hope Anthony is inspired!

Check out the "BIG FLASH" from my inventory.



Reply
Feb 6, 2018 20:39:27   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
Holy moly Mr. Shapiro! I’d absolutely love to try to shoot a big gate with a bunch of high powered lights. Realistically I’m thinking that since the gates won’t move I could use a longer shutter and try to add light by hand.

I too have gotten some really interesting and very helpful PMs with great advice and useful suggestions

Many thanks to everyone’it seems like a lot of thought and effort went into my question.

Reply
Feb 7, 2018 11:25:23   #
kymarto Loc: Portland OR and Milan Italy
 
I would like to suggest that you consider shooting with a wide angle lens. That will get you up close to the gate, which still including what surrounds it--but it will put the gate right in front, and looking up will give you the dynamic of converging vertical, though I know that is not to everyone's taste. I don't shoot gates usually, but I'm including two shots of a torii gate in my local shrine in Japan to give you an idea of what I mean. There is a third shot of a door in a gate in Kamakura, which is a bit off topic, but again shows the effect of converging verticals. Yes, these are both HDR, which is something I like, but could equally be done normally.

Oh, and one last one to suggest that you let the gate frame something, in order to create a sense of depth in the composition...


(Download)


(Download)


(Download)

Reply
Feb 7, 2018 12:16:53   #
AnthonyM Loc: Pasadena, CA
 
kymarto wrote:
I would like to suggest that you consider shooting with a wide angle lens. That will get you up close to the gate, which still including what surrounds it--but it will put the gate right in front, and looking up will give you the dynamic of converging vertical, though I know that is not to everyone's taste. I don't shoot gates usually, but I'm including two shots of a torii gate in my local shrine in Japan to give you an idea of what I mean. There is a third shot of a door in a gate in Kamakura, which is a bit off topic, but again shows the effect of converging verticals. Yes, these are both HDR, which is something I like, but could equally be done normally.

Oh, and one last one to suggest that you let the gate frame something, in order to create a sense of depth in the composition...
I would like to suggest that you consider shooting... (show quote)


Thank you Mr. Marshall. I will try using different angle with a wide angle lens, especially when the background is confusing or competing. I think the HDR idea is also fantastic, that might be useful to show the detail in the metal work of some of these gates.

I really appreciate your thoughts on this. And I also appreciate your work with the Torii .

Thank you
Anthony

Reply
Page 1 of 2 next>
If you want to reply, then register here. Registration is free and your account is created instantly, so you can post right away.
Advice from the Pros
UglyHedgehog.com - Forum
Copyright 2011-2022 Ugly Hedgehog, Inc.