Edinburgh Real Estate Photography: Polwarth Terrace

I was assigned by a local holiday let company (Edinburgh Flats) to shoot a simple but lovely single bedroom property on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh.

Interior photograph of bedroom on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

Backlighting, namely having the light come from a window in the frame, is my favourite lighting scenario. It is tricky technically, as you will undoubtedly realise if you try to take a picture like this.

Interior photograph of bedroom on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

The light is flatter in this set up, but I have no choice if I want to show all there is in the room, in particular the storage facilities.

The place is quite central, in a quiet area and with easy access to public transport. A great place to stay on your Edinburgh holiday. Nevertheless, it is essential to properly market this flat with photographs that do it justice in order to maximise its earning potential.

Interior photograph of living room  on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

The living room of this flat is relatively small, but very comfortable and contains all of the amenities you would wish for.

Interior photograph of living room  on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

From this angle you get to see the rest of the living room.

I like to use natural light in the photographs to give a better idea of what it’s like to “be there”. It is my preferred style of real estate photography. Note that it does require combining multiple photos in post-processing because the camera can’t possibly cope with the range of light and shadows one typically encounters.

Interior photograph of kitchen on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

I guess quite a few holiday makers won’t make use of the kitchen, except may be for heating a pizza. But it is nevertheless important to showcase this part of the property as well and do it justice.

Interior photograph of kitchen counter on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

I love to take detail shots of the kitchen.

Interior photograph of kitchen counter on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

More details of the kitchen.

It is much easier to light the interior with flash as the entire scene can be captured in a single image, simplifying the post-processing process in Photoshop.

Interior shot of a bathroom on Plowarth Terrace, Edinburgh

I always stress how important it is to show an immaculate bathroom.

Luckily for me, it was a beautiful day when I was asked to take photographs of this property, so I could also get a nice exterior picture as well.

Exterior photograph of the building on Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh

I have to take pictures of holiday flats when they are vacant and that doesn’t necessarily correlates with nice weather. This time however, it all worked out.

Hotel Room Photography with Skela Studio

I’ve known interior designer Aleksandra from Skela Studio for some time and I’ve always enjoyed our collaborations. On a photo shoot, it can be very helpful to have a second pair of eyes, especially if those eyes have a good artistic sense. This is why I like collaborating with Aleksandra.

Edinburgh hotel room interior designed by Skela Studio

I started by taking a wide shot of the room to show as much of it as possible.

This time around, Aleksandra had designed a room for a boutique hotel in Edinburgh, No 11 Brasserie & Boutique Hotel, and she wanted me to photograph it.

Detail of Edinburgh hotel room interior designed by Skela Studio

After the ‘establishing shot’, we focussed our attention to details of the room.

It is really important for hotels to have their room designed and photographed by professionals. Customers will make their decision to book based on the photographs they see online. So the pictures better look great. Having your hotel rooms photographed by a professional is therefore a must.  But there is only so much a professional photographer can do: if the interior design is substandard, the photos won’t look as nice.

Detail of Edinburgh hotel room interior designed by Skela Studio

It is important to work you subject, so I tried different framings of the bed close up.

It was a pretty small one bed room. But I could have shot there for the whole afternoon. Interior designers are not only looking for a photograph showing as much of the room as possible, but also need detail shots. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of hours, so the few pictures I’m posting here were all we had time for.

Detail of Edinburgh hotel room interior designed by Skela Studio

Real estate agents generally don’t want me to shoot vertical photos, but it is perfectly fine for interior designers.

 

Light Painting Dancers: Emiley and Katie

I wouldn’t want to do a photography session with dancers without some light painting. Having multiple people in the image is always a challenge. Sometimes you have to light paint one subject and ask them to move out of the frame before light painting the other one. It wasn’t the case this time, as I was able to get in the best position to light paint both dancers without the other one getting in the way.

Light painting two dancers in the Edinburgh College dance studio

It is easier for my subjects to stand still while I light paint them if they have something to hold on to or an object to lean on. Hence the bar and the chair.

Light painting two dancers in the Edinburgh College dance studio

In a portrait, I usually like the subject to make eye contact with the viewer, i.e look at the camera. In this case I wanted the image to look like the dancers didn’t know the camera was there.

I like the “dancer at the bar” theme and I’m always trying different compositions. It was no different this time.

Light painting a dancer in the Edinburgh College dance studio

These kinds of poses can be tricky to frame, depending on the layout of the studio. Nearly all dance studios have mirrors, which is wonderful as I love reflections.

In the second photo, I incorporated the curtains by changing my camera angle, for a slightly different look.

Light painting a dancer in the Edinburgh College dance studio

Somehow, I like this composition better than the previous one. What do you think?

Dance Photography: Emiley and Katie

Being visual artists, dancers definitely need to showcase their abilities with professional photography and/or video. Dance photography is definitely a niche I’d like to develop.  This is why I’ve been doing quite a few personal projects with student dancers.

Emiley and Katie gave me another opportunity to practice my dance photography skills. The shoot for this personal project took place at Edinburgh College, Granton campus, in one of their dance studios.

Jumping dancer in front of black background in a dance studio

For this kind of photograph, timing is everything. Since I used speedlights and their recycle time is quite long, I couldn’t use the motor drive on the camera. I had one try at nailing the shot for every jump.

I love to light dancers with two lights. The lights are placed symmetrically on each side of the dancer, at about 3 metres from the subject and slightly behind. I really like the look of this lighting setup. In the photograph below, you can see the two sets of shadows produced by my two speedlights.

Dancer posing in front of back background in a dance studio.

I chose a low angle for this photograph for a variety of reasons. The dancer’s legs appear slightly longer and I got a nice reflection in the floor.

When I talked to Emily about the kinds of pics we could take, she mentioned that she’s able to ‘jump on the floor’. I had no idea what this meant until she showed me. As you can see from the picture below, we got quite a dynamic photograph out of it.

Dancer acrobatics in front of a black background in a dance studio

Emiley ‘jumping on the floor’. It was tricky to get the timing right for this photograph, as the best picture is obtained while the dancer is in full motion.

I like to work with two dancers, as one of them can rest while I photograph the other. Katie had quite a few moves and jumps up her sleeve too, and the pics below are my two favourites.

Dancer acrobatics in front of a black background in a dance studio

A low camera angle (I was on the floor with Katie) was definitely required for this pose. The timing was pretty much like for jumps. Click the shutter at the moment the dancer movement stops.

Dancer jumping in front of a black background in a dance studio.

I always include the floor in jump shots, as it allows one to see how high the dancer can jump.

At the end of the session, I took photographs of Emiley and Katie  together. For these I changed the lighting setup to have a main light in an umbrella and a bare speedlight as a back light.

Two dancers holding hands in front of black background in a dance studio.

I just love this shot.

Two dancers in front of black background in a dance studio

This is my other favourite picture from the two dancers set up. I really like the shapes produced by the legs and bodies of the two young ladies.

I also did some light paintings of Emiley and Katie. I will present these in the next blog post.

 

 

Coulours of the Edinburgh Festival: Circus Hub

In the last blog post, I gave a preview of Circus Hub, the very colourful Edinburgh Festival attraction.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I had my composition, using the lines, shapes and colours of the walls, and I just needed to wait for someone to take a peak. People also give photographs a sense of scale.

Circus Hub is surrounded by a very colourful wall, and the same colour scheme is found inside. I can’t remember exactly how much time I spent, but I’d say it easily took me a couple of hours to explore the various photographic opportunities at Circus Hub.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

The same colours could be found inside Circus Hub

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Some of the details, like this fence, also provided interesting compositions.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I used the wall to provide a colourful background for the lights. It was a bit too early for the lit bulbs to clearly show. I wonder what the pic would look like taken a few hours later, during the blue hour, but I didn’t get the chance to go back.

When you are faced with a subject so rich in photographic opportunities, you may want to revisit some of the places you’ve been to. It’s very easy to miss a good shot, and the more you work your subject, the better you see.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I’m always intrigued by the contrast of man-made objects and natural ones. In this case, the variety of bight coloured regular shapes versus the more muted colours and irregular patterns of the tree.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

This bench with the sweater makes me wonder who was there and what happened. If benches could talk, we surely would hear some interesting stories.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Another composition with the fence from the photo above, this time from a higher point of view. I was drawn to this composition by the light on the wall.

Finally, don’t forget to get in closer and look at some of the details of the scene in from of you. You may be very surprised (and delighted) by what you get.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Blue and yellow are two colours that came make your images ‘pop’

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Moving to a slightly different spot, I managed to get only the blue and yellow colours in my composition.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Purple and blue are also two contrasting colours that can make your pictures ‘pop’. But I needed another element in the frame to make the composition more interesting. Fortunately someone happened to stop by and engage in a conversation with someone else. His feet provided the missing element in the picture.

 

Edinburgh International Festival: Colour Abstracts

Circus Hub is one of the most colourful attractions at the annual Edinburgh International Festival, which is why it immediately got my attention.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

For this photo, I stood in front of a colourful wall and moved the camera up and down during the 1/4 sec exposure

When I see a colourful subject, I like to explore abstract pictures using camera movement during a long exposure or in camera multiple exposures. It is a taste I acquired by following one of my favourite photographers, Bryan F. Peterson.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

As the ambient light level fell for some time, I was able to use longer shutter speeds, like 1 sec for this photograph. Along with the up and down movement, there was also a little bit of sideways motion to add to the blur.

With this particular wall, I first tried camera movement. The brightness level of the ambient light varied quite a bit while I was taking photographs, which is pretty much par for the course in Scotland. I was able to use shutter speeds between 1/4 sec and 1 sec. I had the most success moving the camera up and down or up and down and a little bit sideways.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this picture, I rotated the camera clockwise by about thirty degrees or so after the first and second exposures.

I next moved to multiple exposures. I had the most success when I rotated the camera between each of the three exposures. It took a bit of experimentation to get something I like but it’s always fun to do.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this photograph, I rotated the camera a bit more. I believe I took one pic horizontal, one at forty-five degrees and one vertical.

Next time you find a colourful bed of flowers or painted wall, why don’t you try some camera movement and multiple exposures. I warn you, the process can be addictive.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

I moved to a different part of the coloured wall, and tried again the horizontal, forty-five degrees and vertical shots.

Real Estate Photography: 20 Atholl Crescent Lane, Edinburgh

Atholl Crescent Lane is a quiet side street off Shandwick Place. It is within easy walking distance of Princes Street and some of the main tourist attractions in Edinburgh. It is therefore a prime location for holiday lets.

Living room, holiday let, Edinburgh

Very cosy living room at 20 Atholl Crescent Lane.

Dining table and kitchen, holiday let, Edinburgh

If you turn the camera 180 degrees from the previous photo, you see a dining space and a very functional kitchen.

Kitchen, holiday let, Edinburgh

A closer look at the kitchen.

Dining area and living room, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this vantage point, you get a sense of the spatial relationship between the dining area and the living room. Especially after you’ve seen the first two photographs.

It always amazes me when I look at the Airbnb website and see so many bad photographs. From my own experience, I believe people will not look at all of the available properties, but select a few within their price range and pick the best from these.

Bedroom with three single beds, holiday let, Edinburgh

This holiday let can accommodate five people, with three single beds in one of the bedrooms. I always prefer the shot with the window in the photograph, and hence the backlight.

Bedroom with three single beds, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this angle, you can better see the three single beds.

Your listing on Airbnb is therefore competing for attention with all of the other available holiday lets. A great thumbnail picture will entice people to check out your property. And when they see all of photos that do your property justice, they might very well book right then.

Bedroom with double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

My favourite angle, with the window in the frame and the backlight. But from this angle, you can’t quite see the bedroom actually had a double bed in it.

Close up of double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

This picture complements the previous one, in that it clearly shows the double bed.

Bedroom with double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this angle, you can see the rest of the bedroom, and in particular the storage area behind the bed.

Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. A professional real estate photographer can add value to your property. And the cost to you is only the equivalent of one, two or three days you charge to let the house or flat.

Bathroom, holiday let, Edinburgh.

It’s always important to show an immaculate bathroom.

It is obviously not possible to measure how many extra bookings professional real estate photographs will bring you, but I have little doubt that one, two or three extra days booked within the lifespan of the photographs (a couple of years or more) is quite an underestimate.

Exterior photo of the 20, Atholl Crescent Lane flat.

On this sunny day, I was able to capture a nice exterior photograph. You can clearly see the property is located in a quiet area.

The photographs will therefore pay for themselves and then some thanks to the extra business you’ll get.

 

Dance Photography at Dance for All: Kirsty

A while back, I met with Kirsty for a dance photo shoot at Dance for All, on St Stephen Street in Edinburgh. The main studio was a little different from what I was used to as it was surrounded by mirrors and windows. Mirrors are a real challenge when lighting a subject, and also limit your shooting angles since you usually don’t want the photographer to appear in the shot.

Dancer at Dance for All, Edinburgh, lit from both sides and slightly behind

I asked Kirsty to look in the direction of one of the lights, in order to avoid nasty shadows on her face. I loved the lights in the background and I think they really add to the composition of this image.

In the photograph above, I deliberately underexposed the background to hide the clutter in the studio. I had two speed lights on the left and right of Kirsty, slightly behind. This is one of my favourite lighting set ups.

Light painting of dancer in front of mirror at Dance for All, Edinburgh

I chose to warm the colours in the photograph to complement Kirsty’s top and shoes and provide good colour contrast with her blue shorts.

As the studio could be made dark enough, I couldn’t resist doing some light paintings as well. I first tried a variation of my ‘lone dancer and the mirror’ image, with Kristy turning her back on the mirror rather than facing it. I added a bit of ‘grit’ in Photoshop and I’m quite pleased with the final result.

Light painting a dancer on a chair, facing away from the camera. Picture taken a Dance for All, Edinburgh

I really like this pose, but next time I’ll make sure one can see the dancer’s hands

I had only done our last set-up once before, and I therefore was looking forward to getting some more practice. In hindsight, I should have asked Kirsty to wear something more colourful, as the black clothing doesn’t provide enough separation from the black background, in my opinion.

 

Light Painting Dancers Chanelle and Charmagne

I’ve been light painting dancers for some time now, and I believe I have honed my technique for a few set-ups, as in the ‘lone dancer at the bar’ one you can see below.

Light painting dancer at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

I really like this set up and most dancers like it too. The reflection in the mirror adds visual tension to the image.

Light painting dancer at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

The challenging bit of doing such a light painting is getting the back light (highlight rim on the hair) right. You’ll definitely know what I’m talking about if you try it.

The light painting technique gives my images a distinct look that helps the photographs stand out amongst the deluge of pictures we are exposed to every day. I can therefore give my clients an edge in getting noticed.

I’m always looking to expand my light painting repertoire. It is quite the obvious step to experiment with light painting two people instead of one.

Light painting two dancers at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

Eventually, I figured that the best way to light paint this set up was to first light paint Chanelle (in front), then ask her to move away so I could light paint Charmagne (at the back)

Usually, I ask my subjects to stand against something, sit on a chair or hold on to something firm, as it helps them stand still while I light paint them. During that light painting session, we experimented with removing any of these ‘helpers’ to see what happens. The light painting session was nearing its end and I knew I already had some good shots. Under these circumstances I like to try something I’ve not done before, to see what happens. Chanelle and Charmagne held hands as they stood away from any walls or chairs.

Light painting two dancers standing  in the middle of the Dance Base studio while holding hands

I left the pose up to the dancers as it is their domain of expertise, while I concentrated on the light painting.

As could be expected, without anything to lean on, both subjects moved more during the light painting than what I’m used to. But thanks to the uniform dark background, it was relatively straightforward to fix this problem in Photoshop. The next step is for me to figure out how to do that with a more detailed backdrop. I look forward to trying this out.

 

 

Dance Photography: Shadow Dancers

The word photography has greek roots and means ‘drawing with light’. But shadows can be your best friend. In fact, it is the combination of light and shadows that creates compelling imagery.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

This is one of my two favourite images from this set-up. I really like the fact the shadow comes really close to the left edge of the frame, as it creates visual tension.

On this dance photography shoot with Charmagne and Chanelle, I decided to explore the use of shadows. With a light coloured wall, it is possible to project a distinct shadow of the dancer.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

In this image the dancer’s body shape is very similar to the one in the previous photograph, yet I don’t think this image is as strong. I believe it is because of the different spatial relationship between the dancer and her shadow.

Dancers can create very photogenic shapes with their bodies. The combination of the dancer and her shadow, as a form of visual echo, creates a more three dimensional feel to the photographs.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

Like in the first photograph of Charmagne, at the top of this blog post, this image of Chanelle has her shadow close to the left edge of the frame. It is probably no coincidence that this is the other of my two favourite pictures from this set-up.

I wish we had more time to explore this set-up, because I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance sometime soon.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

The shape of Chanelle’s body is very appealing from the graphic standpoint. The triangle shape formed by the legs and the implied triangle formed by the arms. But somehow, the combination of that shape and her shadow isn’t quite as compelling as in the previous photograph.

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