Why Light?

Author: Ian Grant Photography | | Categories: Photography Services , Professional Photography Studio

Professional Photography Studio

I would like to present a comparative of two shots taken of the same space with two different approaches – using only ambient light and adding or supplementing with light (flash). Then break out the studio cost to produce and gear required to capture so that there is an understanding of what is brought to the site to create the results seen. Finally I will show a fee that I would normally charge for the two. My hope is that it provides some insight into how there are different approaches, results, costs and fees charged in capturing the same space. There are many levels of photographers in the market today who hang their shingle and sell themselves as professionals. Not all of them have the depth of understanding of how to properly capture spaces. Let’s have a look and see the different results and how the costs/fees change depending on approach.;

1. Capturing space(s) using only available light

Pros

  • Capture time is much shorter
  • Cost per capture (view) is less
  • Captures count per hour is higher
  • Less time in space to complete shoot

Cons

  • Potential for loss of detail in bright areas (windows etc.)
  • Modeling, shape and form of elements in scene totally reliant on ambient light source
  • Harder to create mood if desired

In my ambient capture shown below you can see that the window and curtain details are starting to get lost. This is a result of the camera exposure being based on the room’s ambience. If I set my camera for the window exposure the room is rendered to dark. By setting my camera exposure for the light within the room I lose detail in the window and curtains. This is because the light coming in the window is much brighter that the ambience in the room. Most cameras on the market do not have the capacity to retain the brightness range we see here. Technically we call this “dynamic range” - the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of the scene and is measured in “stops”. Most professionals shooting with a DSLR camera (digital single lens reflex) have a 7+stop “dynamic range”. There are a handful of us in town shooting with what we call a medium format system that has a 11 – 13 stop dynamic range capacity. The trade-off though is that the camera systems are often 10x the cost of a DSLR system resulting in larger fees charged to photograph spaces. 

Professional Photographer Edmonton

Let’s now examine the studio cost to capture, gear used and the resulting fee for this scene with ambient light

Studio cost to capture

  • Shooting time (ambient) -  10 min - $9.25
  • Setup/teardown – 15 min – $13.75
  • Average Km travel to shoot and back – 40 Km - $20
  • Average travel time to shoot and back – 45 min - $42.50
  • Total Cost to Capture (Studio) - $85.50

Average fee (ambient) with single file – $192.50

Camera gear required to capture (ambient)

  • Medium format camera system (5) lens - $80,000
  • Tripod - $1500
  • Meter - $1000
  • Laptop computer - $4500

2. Capturing space(s) supplementing the scene with flash

In my capture below you can see that by incorporating the use of flash I have been able to retain the detail in the window and curtains. I also get to play “light god” and create faux sunlight that can be placed anywhere I want. This element of total control allows me to create the “look” that my clients like but can’t create with their cameras. Flash also allows me to push or pull the window detail – I can make it brighter or darker depending on client taste. This is “why I like to light” my interior scenes if the budget and space warrants it.

​​​​Professional Photographer Edmonton

Pros

  • Retain detail in the windows/curtains
  • Place faux sunlight wherever I like creating the highlight and shadows that are common when the sun shines in a room
  • Full control over lighting and mood created

Cons

  • More time involved in creating the “look”
  • Requires more photographic gear
  • Cost per capture increases

Let’s now examine the studio cost to capture, gear used and the resulting fee for this scene using flash to supplement the scene.

Studio cost to capture

  • Shooting time (flash) -  30 min - $27.50
  • Setup/teardown – 30 min – $27.50
  • Average Km travel to shoot and back – 40 Km - $20
  • Average travel time to shoot and back – 45 min - $42.50
  • Total Cost to Capture (Studio) - $117.50

Average fee (flash) with single file – $375.00

Camera gear required to capture (Flash)

  • Medium format camera system (5) lens - $80,000
  • Tripod - $1500
  • Meter - $1000
  • (2) Light Stands - $500
  • Reflector - $250
  • Power pack with (2) flashes - $17,500
  • Batter pack and single flash head - $6500
  • Laptop computer - $4500

I hope that you found this information useful. If you have any questions or want to chat about your visual needs lets jump on a call and chat (no-obligation). I can be reached at 780.908.8960. I look forward to hearing from you – stay safe.



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