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.

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