Previously in this series, I’ve examined different aspects of photographing hotels and resorts. My ‘Before & After’ series takes you through the process required to achieve a final image, demonstrating that the set-up is as important as the moment I press the shutter button.
Even before I set up my camera, I need to establish the angle, what time of day I’ll be shooting, which lens I’ll be using and what preparation is needed to compose a brilliant image.
In this instance, I was at the Hyatt Regency Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab in Northern India, a city renowned for its marvellous architecture.
The elements needed for a hero image
Images of a hotel at dusk are often ‘hero images’ (i.e., the first image most people will see of a property). The crucial element in this capturing a hotel at dusk is the lighting – timing is everything.
Once I decide on the basics, I call a meeting with the team from the hotel. This can include:
- Members of the marketing team
Everyone has their role in getting the image right.
- The engineering team need to ensure that all the façade lighting is in working order. This is imperative as I often discover that lights are fused.
- The team also need to be on hand to ensure the façade lights go on at a time that coincides with the ambient daylight. Most façade lighting is on a timer or a photosensitive setting. It can be too risky for wait for the lighting to come on, as it may be too late to capture the image. I usually ask the engineering team to over-ride the auto setting and switch on all the lights around an hour in advance of the shoot.
- I ask housekeeping to switch on the lights in each room and open all the main curtains. If there are sheer blinds, I prefer to keep these closed to soften the effect of the lighting.
- Members of the team help me arrange any exterior furniture in a precise, orderly manner.
- The valet staff move cars, out of sight if possible.
Planning ahead for the best image
It’s vital to plan this image a few days in advance so that repairs or replacements can be made to lighting, furniture, etc.
I usually time a dusk image around 15 minutes after sundown. However, this can depend on which country I’m in and the latitude of the property. In this case, I was in Chandigarh, northern India, where sunsets are usually between 5.15 pm – 7.30 pm.
When the light is right
Once I’m satisfied that all the elements are in place for a great exterior building photo, I capture several photos over the ‘magic hour’. Often the final image is a composite of 3 – 6 images.
Post-production is when I apply the ‘icing on the cake’. If anything unusual or unwanted has managed to sneak into the final image, I remove them.
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