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i am fascinated by the work that the people from Beaches.com do on their photos. They always have a lot of quality pictures of rooms and general indoors, outdoors, with and without people.

I was wondering if you have any clue of what kind of setup they are using to take them:

  • For indoor/outdoor shots do you think they are using strobes or fixed lighting?
  • Similar results can be achieved with not so expensive cameras (eg Canon EOS 70D) ?
  • Are they doing a big effort in post production rather then having a good initial setup?

I just think that to produce such amount of good quality pictures takes either a very big effort to create different scenarios and shooting setups or i would find it more doable with a simple setup and a good post production. I am a complete newbie in photography and mine are just thoughts backed up by almost no experience.

Any hint, idea, suggestion, direct experience :) is very welcome.

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This is an edited answer to elaborate on my very general previous answer about ideal and natural light.

Ideal light is generally regarded as early or late in the day. Generally referred to as the Golden Hour. Early morning is specially good as I find the beaches are generally empty. Anything other than these hours, the sand can come across as bright and burnout with the sky looking fairly dark.

What happens is that what my eyes are seeing through my sunglasses, the camera is not seeing and thus the camera takes a well balanced picture based on its own algorithms; without the punch of the Blue Sky and and the vibrancy of the sea.

To compensate for this, I generally increase the exposure and use a Polarising Filter to firstly reduce the glare in the sea and to bring out the richness of the colours. I quite often set the white balance manually against the sky as I am a big lover of Blues.

Something else that I look out for; if I am leaving an air-conditioned hotel room to walk out onto the beach, I will wait a while before taking any pictures as I find that condensation builds on a lens; very small amount, but its there.

I also ensure that I avoid days where there is mist in the sea, as that also takes away from the sharpness and vibrancy of the image.

From a composition perspective, I always as a rule of thumb look for something unique to that beach. This allows for the image to have its identity and create dept to the image. I also think of ways of capturing the moment that is unique to me.

All pictures are always taken in RAW which allows for complete control in Lightroom. I always ensure that I keep an eye on the Histogram as to avoid any clipping of Blacks or Whites. This is very important if I am to later have prints made as clipped white will not have any ink sprayed on that part of the Print.

Sliders I use most commonly in Lightroom are; reduction in Highlights. I find that it brings that extra bit of texture. Reduction in Black and an increase in Shadow and White (the latter depends on the Brightness of the image. Any large changes in exposure I always do with Graduated Filters in LR and I use the Adjustment brush for clarity or sharpness as it gives me complete control over small elements.

At times, I will also use the individual colour sliders to accentuate different colours to achieve the desired level of Vibrancy and Saturation.

Regarding interiors, I use a wide Angle Lens of 14mm EF on a Canon 5D or 10-22mm EF-S on a Canon 7D. On the latter, I generally only use the 10mm end so that I am able to get in as much info as possible so that when I correct for Lens Profiles and straighten up lines, I can still get the main subject in.

I will as a rule of thumb, use bracketing exposure and take 3 shots with 1 stop under and 1 over and another 3 with 2 under and 2 over. I then drag all 6 shots into a software called Photomatix and create a HDR on Natural settings. ( I won’t go too much into that as it is a separate topic altogether). Once the images are tone mapped to give the desired effect of both the interior and exterior through the Windows is exposed correctly, I save as a Tiff and bring back to Lightroom to carry out any refinements as described above.

Photoshop is only used if I need extra sharpening or Dodging and Burning. I prefer to sharpen via a new Layer and a High Pass Filter and increase contrast by creating a new Monochrome Layer and Soft Blending, increasing the opacity until the desire effect is reached. I prefer Dodge and Burn in Photoshop as I find it more controllable.

At times, I may use portable flash lights or even Studio Strobes to light up a room that I have exposed for the light coming through the Windows. This is only when I am on a paid job and have the luxury of time and an assistant at hand to help.

To me it is very important that I firstly have my composition right and the Image looks pleasing and that I have taken it in RAW allowing me to make adjustments in Post Production.

It is also very important to me that I use Polarising Filters at the time of Clicking and take my time, moving the camera about to ensure that I am as close to the desired effect as possible.

Having looked at Beaches.com, their images seem to have gone through a similar process :)

Hope this helps and Good Luck with your Photography

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    This is a very general answer that could apply to almost any photographic situation. A phrase like "best & most ideal natural light possible" is too general to be useful. Why wouldn't you take the photograph in the best and most ideal light? – Hugo Oct 21 '14 at 10:03
  • @Hugo - You're right. I have edited my answer and re-posted – Abdul Quraishi Oct 21 '14 at 13:46

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