Mike Kelley is an amazing architectural photographer and guest contributor at Fstoppers. Recently, Mike published an article on B&H's Explora blog about the science and magic that went into the featured image above. In his article, Mike takes you behind the scenes in a rare look at the process behind his photographs.
The client for this particular gig was interested in having an image shot at twilight to highlight both the features of the kitchen and dining area as well as the beautiful bay view outside. Mike explains that architectural images shot at twilight pose a special challenge and require quite a bit of manipulation and compositing in post production.
Mike's first step is to establish a composition before he locks down his gear on a tripod.
The image below shows the general composition that I've chosen. This is going to be our base image—that is, on which we're going to build the rest of this shot.
After perfecting his composition Mike wanted to start by getting an image of the harbor.
In order to get the view, I put the camera on a tripod about a half hour earlier, and took a series of shots as the sun went down, exposing JUST for the exterior, as seen in the image below.
Of course, exposing for the exterior (with the lights off to prevent glare) resulted in an underexposed interior. Mike then turns on the lights and adjusts exposure. He uses a Lowel GL-1 LED lamp to paint light and add interest.
This gives us a perfect view out the window, but with a really underexposed interior. I'll use this frame and take the view, and using the pen tool in Photoshop, I cut the view from this one frame and paste it on top of my base image, as seen in image three, below.
After merging the two images Mike then makes global adjustments to contrast and saturation. Noticing the sky was a little flat, he then cloned in a bit of this image he took of the sky while on another assignment at Lake Tahoe.
Finally, he removes little annoyances such as light switches and fire alarms. And voilà:
Like what you see? Mike Kelley will be leading a workshop at the 2014 Fstoppers Workshops in the Bahamas this May.