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'Mastering' indoor and flash photography in fourteen

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by Sebastian Tombs, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. Sebastian Tombs

    Sebastian Tombs Active Member

    Dear all,

    Somebody has asked me to take indoor residential photographs of his work as a professional plasterer, to happen in about two weeks.

    While I think of myself as an intermediate-to-almost-advanced photography enthusiast, I have no substantial experience with flash photography if that is what I may have to use.

    I have a Canon 5D Mark 3 and a 550EX flash (are they even compatible? I won the flash more than ten years ago but never got round to study flash photography in appropriate depth, apart from a few occasions when I tried the flash unit more for fun than anything else) coupled with a Sto-Fen diffuser if needed. I will be using either a 16-35 f2.8 L or the newer f4 L IS version I am swapping it for.

    While I study the whole matter in detail from here to when I take the photographs, is there anything at all that any of you feels to tell me, anything that comes to mind that I should know about? It may be that I am able to use natural light but the question above any useful information still stands of course, regardless of the use of flash or not.

    Thank you to anybody pitching in to share their views.
    Andrew Greig likes this.
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Any EX gun will work. I can't imagine the task. The main thing about good plasterwork is you can't see anything, unless you mean decorative work.
  3. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The flash should be fine, it is compatible with the camera, but it would be wise to test it given the time it has been lying around. The diffuser will reduce the harshness of the light from the flashgun.

    For any of us to give you any further advice it would help us to know whether the subject is a plasterer as in basically doing flat walls or something more specialised.
  4. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    I have a horrible suspicion that you may need to use off camera flash and possibly two guns to get the best results.
  5. Sebastian Tombs

    Sebastian Tombs Active Member

    Thank you all for your replies.

    I must say yours are very good questions indeed. I am Italian and my father-in-law is a plasterer in the 'Italian tradition', which is a definition I have heard a few times since I live abroad but never in Italy.

    He does both commercial and residential jobs, the former including but not limited to anything from warehouse ceiling panels to shopping areas' partition walls, while the latter could be anything from bookshelves integrated in a sitting room's wall, to full walls, to waist-high low partition walls to break up larger rooms.

    I believe you may be asking whether for plasterer I mean somebody who does decorative work, more what I think coincides with the English meaning of 'stuccos', even if stucco in Italian means a very specific material and not only the fine art final product, but I digress.

    To go back to your question, I highly doubt this gentleman does decorative work (floral embellishments, coat of arms and the likes as if restoring a Roman villa) but I assume, if he is anything like my father-in-law, that his work may be more varied than plain, flat walls or ceilins, with the chance he may have made residential items such as corner bookshelves, tv shelves coming out of walls, etcetera.

    The only thing I can do is to find out what the man actually does and come back to the community to receive advice, but also to let people know what the developments are, for the collective record.

    If I were to simplify the matter, hopefully allowing you to offer your preliminar inghts based on my educated guess, I am expecting to take pictures inside fully furnished, luxury accomodation (due to the location where I live – shall we say that I am a pauper among gods), the same that you would find in upmarket estate agents' sales materials. You can find what I am thinking about on sites such as www.hopkinsons.net for example.

    For the time being, thank you all for pitching in and I will share more information as soon as it becomes available.
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Taking pictures of interiors makes more sense than trying to show the absence of imperfections on a flat wall/ceiling. The main challenges are getting everything square and in sensible proportion with the wide angle lenses necessary and getting the lighting sympathetic. Windows can be a problem especially if the view outside intrudes. It isn't my thing but I would think a tripod essential, ambient light where possible and bounced flash as fill-in for shadows -off camera if needed. There have been a few posts over the years on this. Mainly from the estate-agent wanting to improve. There may be some specialist websites, it is a long time since I researched to answer a similar query. I suspect the top end interior shooters use cameras with movements and also do some stitching.
  7. Andrew Greig

    Andrew Greig Member

    Any faults with plasterwork are revealed by side lighting. That is light which is falling or projected on to the wall at a very shallow angle. So 90 degrees to the surface is useless, it is referred to as "flat" lighting. But 10 degrees to the surface will reveal any imperfections. So off camera flash is essential. In order to pick up any imperfections the flash will need to fire toward the lens. Have the lens aimed at around 30 degrees. If no imperfections are seen as a result, his plasterwork could be deemed "very good".
  8. Sebastian Tombs

    Sebastian Tombs Active Member

    Thank you for these details Andrew, duly noted!
  9. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    My advice would be to use a tripod, shoot at an angle toward the light as much as possible. If flash is essential, in the far corners away from windows, I would try bouncing the flash into the window and the adjacent corner, and up into the ceiling, alongside the corner that you are photographing. You may need to try using some bounce from the middle of one wall/ceiling mid-way along a wall. Andrew is right above, angles are everything for texture.

    Hope the cornices are deep. Should be a learning experience. Good luck.
  10. Sebastian Tombs

    Sebastian Tombs Active Member

    Thank you!

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