Based in Dubai. Traveling everywhere. All photographs by Catalin Marin.

BTS Monday – Majestic blue hourApril 1st, 2013

As I promised (although it’s coming a couple of weeks late), I am starting a new series of posts here having a behind-the-scenes (BTS) look at some of my commercial shoots and hopefully provide you with an insight into how I approach some of these shoots and what goes into creating an image for a client.

For this inaugural post, I chose a fairly challenging image I shot for Majestic Hotel in Dubai. The brief from the client was that they would like to update their image library with some room photographs that showcase the location of the hotel as well as the stunning views of the Dubai skyline. We knew we wanted to capture a blue hour photograph that will have the lights of the city sparkle in the background so we setup the equipment about 2 hours before dark to make sure we give ourselves enough time to figure out all the lights for the room.

To give you an idea of what we had to work with, the image below is of the available light from the outside, while all the room lights were switched off. The reason why I took this photo is to have one image with absolutely no reflections in the window, in case I need to clean up any details later during the post-processing. By the way, that weird difference in colour in the sky at the top-right of the window is just the way the clouds were looking outside – a bit of a bummer, but not much we can do about that except clean it up in post.

Majestic blue hour - no lights

From there, we started adding lights into the room (obviously after turning on all the actual room lights!). We added one main light, camera right, which was an SB-910, shot through an umbrella and placed on the tv stand, shooting at about 45 degrees towards the camera. Another small flash was placed between the bed and the window curtain, shining very little light on the curtain. This was just to make the curtain stand out slightly. One more flash was almost at my feet under the tripod, lighting up the side of the bed, again, just to make it stand out and not go all shadowy. For the final touch, I used an Arri 150W continuous light, focused into a fairly tight spot on top of the bed. This light was also placed camera right on top of the tv stand.

Lighting the room this way, made it easier to balance it with the blue hour outside. Also, shooting with a tripod, making sure the camera is not moving throughout this process, allows me to eliminate any kind of unwanted reflections in the window by blending parts from the no light frame – you will notice that I did let some reflections shine through, otherwise the image would look very fake.

BTS Monday - Majestic blue hour

As always, if you have any questions, drop them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.


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