Combining two stories: Sunbeams & Soft Light

Monday, November 26, 2012

© stephani buchman _                  This is the final merged photograph file.

This is a photo I recently took for Jodie Rosen Design. She was so happy this table had just been delivered to the client thus giving us the opportunity to photograph it while we were there shooting the completed living room design. The table is a reclaimed grey barn board, finished with a smooth coating, which maintains the texture of the wood.  The table’s base: a contrasting polished chrome - keeps the look modern rather than rustic.  The polished chrome chairs create continuity between the table base and the chairs. 

The problem with and the asset of this room is that it has large windows behind the table. When we were shooting, there was sun streaming in creating sunbeams across the table, wall, and floor. This light is great for adding interest to the image and drawing desired attention to the texture of the table. Yet, this light is not great for showcasing the polished chrome base of the table and chairs, and the coordinating color of the seats. In this light, those fall into dark shadow. Further, when the image is shot with the blinds open, the light is a little too strong and over-lit, and we can see the children’s play structure and all the trees in the backyard (see the shot illustrating this below).

To get rid of the hard light, the view of the trees and children’s play structure, we close the blinds creating a nice a soft overall light. But now the nice sunbeams are gone. 

How do we get both the soft light and the sunbeams into one final shot? Shoot multiple exposures with the camera on the tripod so that the frame does not move. Then, once the images are shot, the post-production work beings. I bring the files into Lightroom and Photoshop where I can quickly merge the various exposures into layers creating one beautiful photograph. You will see the resulting image shows the light coming through the window streaming across the table, wall, and floor. The play structure is gone, replaced with the tranquil tree shadow pattern the on the blinds. Finally, the walls, chairs, and table are lit with a soft light that allows the color and chrome to come through.

It is so great that I can use this technology to create a better reality than we could actually get in-camera. Not exactly a lie, just a combination of stories.

© stephani buchman _ Shot with window blinds up we see the play structure outside.
© stephani buchman _ This was taken with the blinds down. There are no sunbeams across the table or the floor, but there is a soft light on the chairs and the walls.

© stephani buchman _ The final combined image.

Jodie Rosen does it with Stainless Steel tile!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I love capturing images for Jodie Rosen of Jodie Rosen Design. She always wows me by presenting something unique in her interior design. This time the WOW was the stainless steel tile!  I had never seen stainless steel tiles before. But I now see it is being used more and more frequently.  When I asked Jodie about it, she told me the stainless steel mosaic tiles are a relatively new material for her as well. She loves how durable they are for a kitchen backsplash.  She says,  “it’s a super sleek look with a high level of reflection, which is a nice bonus for such a dark colored material.  In this kitchen, it provided a great backdrop for the ‘statement’ stone used on the countertop and waterfall edge of the island”.

Another great aspect of this interior is the stone fireplace, which, Jodie tells me is called Erthcoverings (that’s the right spelling, not a typo!). She continues,  “It is a random installation which is done with love by the guys onsite.  The result is a more modern take on the ever-present split face slate frequently found on fireplaces.” She says she loves how it quietly makes an impact in the space without fighting with the kitchen.

Finally, I learned a new design term. The cabinetry is considered transitional in style, Jodie tells me “It’s a classic shaker panel but the profile is a little more clean than a traditional shaker.  It warms up the white painted finish – this house is a really nice mix of modern without feeling too stark and sleek.”

She is right about that. Even though this was a new build, and thus empty, it still had a very warm and welcoming feeling. Both of us felt that the new owners would be very happy here for a long long time. 

 photo © stephani buchman

 photo © stephani buchman

 photo © stephani buchman

 photo © stephani buchman

 photo © stephani buchman

Top notch Interior Design: one click away!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yes! Online Interior Design.  

The movement of Online Interior Design is quickly building. It is similar to a DYI design project, but with professional consulting & expertise. One of my photography clients, Direct Design Company is at the forefront of this trend. They provide affordable design starting with one click. Simply, by visiting their web site, clicking on “Become A Client”, opening up a questionnaire, the client starts the process of changing a space in their home.

This new approach is less expensive because the client shares in the legwork with the designer. Instead of paying for designers’ time to measure, document the space, and talk to the client about style and aesthetic preferences, the client does the measurements, uploads pictures, and fills out a comprehensive questionnaire that informs the designer about the client and their lifestyle.

Once the client gives the designer the information and measurements, the designer provides the client with their creative insight and know-how. They deliver a room plan, color pallet, price and source furniture and accessories, all according to the client style and budget.  The complete design concept is packaged into a presentation portfolio and mailed through land mail.

When the client receives this package, they save money again. Instead of paying designer hourly rates, using the design concept as a guide, the client does the work of shopping for and purchasing the already-sourced pieces.  The client buys the furniture, has it delivered and arranges everything according to the drawings. They have the painter paint with the specified colors, and voila a new designer room in the client’s home.

 Do you have an opinion on this idea? What are your thoughts on this trend?

These latest pics are one of the most recent projects by Kim Bartley and Direct Design Co.


Inspired by Color: Yellow Beets

Friday, September 28, 2012

Early this summer,  I was struck by the beautiful and unusual color of these beets. I had to bring them home to photograph them and then, grill them on the BBQ!

Food & Drink: Tommy Bahama Style

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In February of 2012, the legendary Ferdinand Van Alphen was appointed Vice President of Creative Services for Tommy Bahama, a brand known for their understated luxury and the goal to “Make Life One Long Weekend".  

In MRKETPLACE, Tommy Bahama CEO Terry Pillow, was quoted as saying:

“The Tommy Bahama brand is our most valuable asset and I’m excited to have someone as talented as Ferdinand join our team to help bring it to life. This job requires an understanding of our rich history and the ability to translate our aesthetic to all facets of the company. I think Ferdinand is a perfect fit.”

 In June, Van Alphen and Tommy Bahama hired me, Stephani Buchman, to “bring to life” some of their most popular restaurant menu items with my camera. They flew me from my home base in Toronto to California, put me up in a swanky hotel, and we set up “studio” in one of the large rooms at their Newport Beach Island Grille location.

There were only two weeks to prep the shoot from the moment I received that call that I got the job to the start day. Thank goodness I like challenges! I had to work efficiently, resourcefully, and remotely put together a team of assistants, stylists, and secure the necessary equipment rental. I am so grateful for my reliable connections in California and Toronto. My good friend Beate Chelette set me up with Image Mechanics for top of the line equipment, tech and first assistants. Another friend, Raff Melito of Full Serve Productions here in Toronto suggested a prop stylist who lives in California.  Finally, I was able to book the very talented and creative Murray Bancroft  through JudyInc. He flew down from Vancouver to join me as part of the Canadian contingent!

It was a thrill to work with a major brand like Tommy Bahama and to create images with a visionary such as Ferdinand Van Alphen. The topnotch team made sure everything ran smoothly. We even wrapped the last day exactly on schedule at 5 o’clock – just in time to savor some of the delicious cocktails we had just photographed! My new favorite drink: the Grapefruit Basil Martini.

These are some of my favorite pictures from the project:

©stephani buchman

©stephani buchman    

©stephani buchman

©stephani buchman

Lemons and bubbles_ ECU

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Last week I got to play with a new macro lens. Here are the results. Which one makes you thirsty?
 A: ©stephani buchman

B: ©stephani buchman

C: ©stephani buchman

D: ©stephani buchman

E: ©stephani buchman

F: ©stephani buchman

foraging for wild garlic

Monday, July 30, 2012

FORAGING FOR WILD GARLIC. We were up at my in-laws this weekend. I became an instant forager as I wondered around their property. There was wild garlic growing in the shade near their garden. It was so tasty, with a sharp raw garlic taste. And so beautiful, it inspired me to take these photos! I brought home a handful of buds. Any suggestions of what to make?

Great Master Bath Design by MHouse!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

On July 10th, I was fortunate to work with yet another great designer: Shirley Meisels, principle designer of MHouse (

Shirley and I have actually known one another for a while but might have only recognized each other with our hair pulled back, sweat dripping down our faces and clothed in racer back tank tops. We frequently sit near each other as we cycle till we burn in spin class, or rejuvenate in downward dog at our local Spynga.

Witnessing how driven she is in class, I was even more excited to work with her after discovering her remarkable design work on Houzz. Putting my recent promo material to use, I contacted Shirley, also mentioning the hangout and friends we have in common, and she was in. She had just completed the master bath on the third floor of a Toronto home and needed to have it photographed. Great timing for me!

Shirley has lots of experience and the tear sheets to show for it with previous editorials at a slew of media outlets including Chatelaine, Style at Home Magazine, Houzz Tour, House of Fifty, and Mommish. Most recently, she has been appointed feature designer in Village Living, the new neighborhood magazine. Shirley has even appeared on The Steven & Chris Show.

The attention is not surprising once you’ve seen her modern, colorful and approachable design style. Add to that Shirley’s own genuine and easygoing personality and you have a perfect content formula. It was a pleasure to get off our spin cycles and collaborate in a world that has much less to do with sweat than strong design and gorgeous spaces. Who says a good workout and networking don’t mix!

©stephani buchman

©stephani buchman            
©stephani buchman

Carly Nemtean Designs a Dream Kitchen and More!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The week of March 5th-9th  rocked my world! I had the good fortune to photograph several rooms designed by the talented Carly Nemtean. If you don’t know who she is yet, you will! Carly is an Accredited Interior Designer who co-founded Carriage Lane Design-Build in 2011. Her work has been featured on two Lifestyle and Reality series: Cineflix’s Property Brothers and HGTV’s upcoming show Reno vs. Relocate.  Carly has also been a featured designer on HGTV’S Design Interns. I found her to be wonderfully sweet and easy to work with, and I especially I loved that we both view the world from the grand height of 5' 2".

We had many locations to cover as I captured new images for the Carriage Lane Design-Build website refurbish. As we went along, each new room design was more impressive than the last. And boy, did Carly save the best for the last! I have to admit that I felt my jaw drop when I saw the kitchen at our final location. It was one of those moments when I just had to smile in disbelief that I get to do this for a living! 

The eclectic modern kitchen was a dream with its clean lines, white walls and grey concrete Caesarstone counters that contrasted beautifully with the flat panel, dark walnut cabinets. Natural light filled the space from double skylights and a wall of windows overlooking a treed ravine. When the subject is this beautiful and well designed, the picture almost takes itself! I can only wish for more opportunities like this! Though the kitchen was my favorite, I also loved the “kids” bathroom complete with a fabulous built-in shelving unit that accented the high ceilings of this 1950’s Raised Bungalow. The light bamboo veneer on the shelves, as well as the suspended vanity, melded with the soft natural light in this room to give it a clean, spa-like vibe.

It was effortless and fun to spend time with Carly. We worked in tandem as she quickly set the “stage” while I positioned the lights and camera. Together, we made decisions about where to tweak and make changes for the final image. Carly moved quickly and had great ideas throughout the shoot. I look forward to documenting more of her latest designs soon!

Long Table Dining Among The Herbs!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Recently, I had the opportunity to both attend and photograph one of the latest culinary trends to take over our city. On March 15th, The Social Feed organized a communal dining event hosted by The Stop Community Food Centre, with beer provided by Great Lakes Brewery.  The fundraiser took place at the Wychwood Barns and the setting was one of the most unique I have ever experienced. There were 50 of us seated at a long table running down the center of its 3,000 square foot, state-of-the-art greenhouse. Surrounded by the vibrant sight and earthy smell of growing plants, it was like eating in the Garden of Eden!

The delectable vegetarian dinner was conceived and prepared by Chef Chris Brown, formerly of the highly acclaimed restaurant Perigee. The menu featured a Rosemary, Potato & Buffalo Mozzarella flat crust pizza topped with fresh herbs from the greenhouse, among other dishes. My favourite was the Roasted Hubbard Squash with toasted almonds, topped with green curry sauce on a bed of lentils. Chef Brown really knows how to bring out the nuttiness of a lentil.
And of course, the beer was fantastic!

The Stop’s mission is to increase access to healthy food in a way that maintains dignity, builds community and challenges inequality. At the Wychwood location, their Green Barn is a sustainable food production and education centre which houses the greenhouse, food systems education programs, a Global Roots Garden, a community bake oven and compost demonstration centre. Partial proceeds from the sale of the tickets went to The Stop Community Food Centre.

Originating in Vancouver, with similar organizations in NY and other major cities in the United States, The Social Feed is at the helm of the “in real life” movement in food culture dedicated to bringing people together to share a meal and connect in person. Though facilitated by social media, the message is not the medium but through the medium. And what a delicious medium it was!

All meals are fixed-priced and served family style from large platters offering a variety new dishes created by a renowned chef for a great deal. It’s suggested that if you come with a partner, you sit beside them so that you are both open to spontaneous conversation with a stranger. The communal table encourages socialization, as you have to talk to the person across from you when you ask them to pass the pizza!

Doubling as an interactive city guide, The Social Feed also suggests new places to eat along the way. So not only do you get to meet new people but you also get to experience a new restaurant your city.

The Stop Community Food Centre was something that I have wanted to check out for a while so I was stoked when The Social Feed held this amazing event right in my hood! 

I am so appreciative  to Danielle Goldfinger from The Stop Community Food Center  and Reggie Milligan from The Social Feed for facilitating  this opportunity!

Enjoy the pics!

Creative Collaboration

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The other day I woke up excited! I couldn’t wait to get started working with interior designer Kelly Stoneburgh as we continue to document her design of a North Annex duplex. Our goal: to capture a few images of the Master Bedroom. 
Kelly’s signature style of mixing the old with the new was clearly visible in setting an antique French chair against a backdrop of contemporary lines and colours. Her confident pairing of a modern Miro-esque print on a wall opposite a trio of vintage botanical illustrations is an example of her playful aesthetic.
One of Kelly’s favorite things about the room is the soft, "mint chocolate chip" paint on the walls. Though traditionally a color from a cool palette, nothing about this room feels cold. The overwhelming impression is warm and cozy, like the inside and out of a robin’s egg. Luxurious bed linens are in classic white and cream, accented by a charming faux fur pillow placed center stage. I particularly appreciate that the lines of the artwork above the bed are echoed in the smaller throw pillow below. The variety of textures, from the matelasse headboard to the chocolate suede on the armchair, provides tactile stimulation.
I love working with Kelly! She knows what she likes and is able to clearly articulate what she wants in a final image. I really value that Kelly is open to new ideas as we move through the shoot. Her strong sense of self and easy confidence allow us to work together quickly, complimenting each other’s strengths.  As I finish tweaking a shot in one room, she is busy styling the next.
At the beginning of the day, Kelly sat on the floor and noted that, “It is really hard to translate the feeling of sitting here, in this exact room, into a two dimensional picture.” I thought to myself, “That is exactly our creative challenge.” Photographing interiors is about making the viewer want to be in the space just by looking at a picture of it. The goal is to elevate and draw attention to the design details by placing them thoughtfully in a frame. I went to bed with a smile on my face, knowing that we had managed to achieve our objective.

Love Stinks! or Happy Anti-Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I am posting these images recently published in Cake Central Magazine. The talented Susan Trianos created this cake for their Anti-Valentine's Day feature that rejected the modern commercialization of love by celebrating the angst of a broken heart.

When Susan and I composed this shot together, it was the details of the cake that fascinated me. Susan applied a series of golden beads each the size of a pinhead around the crown. That takes a steady hand! Her replication and interpretation of the iconic Queen of Hearts struck me as brilliantly creative. Have you ever seen a cake standing on point like this? Susan’s work is the epitome of the fine art of cake making.

Some of the out-takes of the details


© 2013 Stephanie Buchman. All Rights Reserved. | Blog Design By Brittany Douglas