Lucas Fladzinski's picture

Napa Shoot

Client MH Builders. Napa, CA. The light was failing fast and I was hoping to get more of the interior from this elevated position. After shooting numerous frames, my client decided to move me closer to the pool so that more of the interior would be visible. After setting up, we both agreed that the new position was not as good so I moved back. By then, the light had left and I was forced to piece together several exposures from the first position and the second creating more complexity to an already complex shot. I do not use HDR programs, I manually layer the composite.

17mm · f/16.0 · 1/13s · ISO 100
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Jason Dream's picture

Perfect lighting shot. That is nice to see a composition mixing outside and inside. Hard job but you do it right here !

Nasser Ali's picture

Really superb! In love with everything in this pic. And it's so inspirational to see in the beginning of this month :) Well Done!

Lucas Fladzinski's picture

Thanks Nasser, I really appreciate it! I just added my photos to Fstoppers yesterday so I was quite humbled by this.

Jesse Beauclaire's picture

Beautiful shot Lucas! I'm curious, could you explain how you achieved such a high dynamic range without HDR techniques? How is "manually layered" any different than HDR?


Lucas Fladzinski's picture

Jesse, thank you for the kind remarks. In light of technique, I should clarify in my description and add that I do not use programs to automatically compile HDR images. It's still an HDR image by definition, but instead of relying on an algorithm, I manually arrive at a High Dynamic Range by layering numerous exposures and edit through the layers picking and choosing which elements will stay and which will go. It's a process that has evolved a lot for me since 2005 when I started but continues to be the best way for me to honestly represent my subject matter. There are a lot of video tutorials out there describing this process which varies slightly from artist to artist. Mike Kelly explains his process very well with Fstoppers called "Where Art Meets Architecture" which is pretty much the same process that I use from start to finish. One difference is that I typically use more natural light when sculpting the highlights while my strobed light is primarily used to fill shadows and model surfaces.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Really lovely shot. I love the fact that you were "forced to piece together several exposures from the first position and the second". I've found myself in this position many times!!! Basically when I shoot any type of landscape or shot like this now(non-portrait essentially) I nearly always shoot bracketed because I don't know what will end up working and frankly I may not know what I'm doing at the time!! Having the extra shots will help account for changing lighting somewhat if I need to composite later on.

Nice seamless work!!

Lucas Fladzinski's picture

Jason, thanks for the comments! Indeed, bracketing is one of the landscape and architectural photographer's best tools in their toolbox. Though, it's not always easy to explain this to clients. For this particular project, the client had hoped to get the same kind of image from about ten different angles of several structures on site. I explained that the "magic hour" is more like 15 minutes and that we need to choose the very best composition to be used as the main composite shot. For this image, I was not able to use strobes since I was racing around shooting the location buildings from many different angles throughout the day and twilight hours. The client opted to get as many angles as possible at the risk of sacrificing some essential tools that could've been employed for maximum effect. Despite some limitations, we were both happy with the results. Thanks again.

Chris Lee's picture


Austin Burke's picture

All be honest I rarely like HDR, yet the ones I do like are usually manually put together. Amazing photo but the one thing that still gets to me is the trees, near the top of the leafs I am not a fan of the HDR look to them. Trees are a nightmare when it comes to stuff like this for me but still its the only thing I could really pick at.

Claude Lee Sadik's picture

Such a beautiful photo! I love how the sunset light goes through the house.

Geoff Miasnik's picture

Very attractive and inviting.