There are no old houses in Charleston that allow photographic lighting, unless it is arranged in advance for a special occasion.
The last time I used any kind of flash was during the Charleston Jail shoot, and yes that was a special arrangement. (That shoot used Speedlights and Rogue Benders for snoot and soft box.).
The images here, the Manigault House, all used the natural ambient light. Good news is many of these old manors have huge windows.
Above, the curved stair case and chandelier caught all the outside sun. The photographs settings were based on the bright window so everything else was very dark. The crystal sparkles this way.
The next photograph, from a different angle, did not use the the big curved windows for light readings. The ceiling was bright enough to frame the stairs and crystal. Getting this was simply shooting many different images until a had one with balance. Using film that would be sloppy and wasteful. It’s digital and I had space for another 1,000 tries so who cares.
Every old house I visit always has statues on the window sills. Many are original to the homes and really beautiful. The Charleston elite, and plantation owners, collected expensive art works. During the Civil War many homes were looted for their wealth. Most owners hid what they could.
Shooting here is all about contrast and shadows. In the film days you would ‘dodge and burn’ prints in the dark room to get it right. Thanks to digital we sit at desks now.
Above there was actually two sets of light sources. Off to the right was the large bow windows, the door below brightened first floor. Another trial and error shot since the curved stairs on the left were always in the dark.
The last photograph here would have benefited from a graduated filter on the lens. The window light is too bright. I did apply a software filter, top to middle to help.
No high end gear was used here. The camera body was a Canon 70D, my smaller backup camera. It does have a nice touch screen for shoots like these. The negative being it does not do low light very well. In this environment it usually doesn’t matter much.
One lens was used in all the photographs published here. A Canon 18-135 ‘kit’ lens covers all the focal lengths needed. I did have a few prime lens but time is an issue and distance is always guess work. Besides someone walks with you through the homes and I tend to slip away… they eventually come looking for me.
Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and DxO Silver Efex were the software programs used here.
4 thoughts on “Grand House, Ambient Light”
Fantastic work. You know, you should come to Europe (any country). You’d have plenty of old houses to photograph. 🙂
As for Europe we have worked in France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland so far. Travel is not as much fun anymore which is why we now work in the Lowcountry.
Wonderful work Ted!
Thanks so much. We get to shoot in a completely different way. Plus some of the work is used in a SC historical research site.