How I Got That Shot - Will Pryce

As part of new series on the blog, we will be asking select photographers to share the insights into how they are pulling off some of their best shots. Many of the professional photographs you see out there are professional because they are made to look easy and natural. Most are not, and require a sound understanding of lighting and lighting conditions and some important post-processing work. To start us off, we asked London-based photographer Will Pryce to share his story on a great interior image that he shot in the Hyde Park area in London. Will is based in London but has worked around the world shooting a variety of subjects including interiors and architecture.

THE PROBLEM

"I like this shot not because it's the best photograph I've ever taken but because it is typical of something that looks easy enough to do but is actually very hard. It's a hotel apartment room in London shot for the designers Anoushka Hempel Design. The shot had to convey the point of renting a hotel apartment - all the amenities of home in a hotel room. So it had to show the kitchen, the dining room and the living room all in one shot and that in actually a very long, narrow, elongated space overlooking Hyde Park. Turn at an angle and I'd only get some of it in and the relatively low ceiling height would become more noticeable. So I elected to shoot wide along the narrow side of the room, at an angle that got everything in and focused on the relaxed end of the space, the place you'd sit after using the kitchen and dining room.

So that left me facing directly south so the sun was going to spend the entire time coming straight at me and since the window reveals were black they were almost custom made for a light bleed. To get around the fact that light was pouring in from the right end only, I was going to have to light it.  I also, however,  needed to make it look entirely naturally lit.

THE SOLUTION

Problem number one was the inherent distortions caused in the foreground of wide angle lenses. My Canon kit (good as it is) might have made it feel like an exaggerated tunnel. So I shot it with my Arca Swiss F-Line with Schneider lenses that I find show less distortion than dSLR lenses. Choosing the sofa end also allowed the exaggeration of the foreground to be accommodated without an object giving the game away -- imagine shooting the other way with the dining room table looking huge in the foreground. The lateral movement of the Arca Swiss let me shift my Leaf Aptus 75 back sideways and capture the shot in two using a 38mm lens. The fact that all the daylight is coming in from the right was balanced by three kinoflow continuous lighting units one to my immediate left, one in the doorway on the left, and the furthest beyond the kitchen lighting the back wall. I was using the little diva light models which have little power but on a relatively long exposure like this (about 3 seconds), they filled in a good deal and are inherently softer than flash. The sheer quantity of light managed to also wash out a lot of the color casts and held detail in the troublesome black finishes.

This straight-forward shot shows how much time I spend as an interiors photographer trying to make something that feels like you're in the room rather than looking at a very oddly shaped image. If we all see [the world as if through] a standard (50mm) lens then logically the struggle of the interiors photographer is to combat the tendency to read wide angle images as inherently false. I find that if I can combat that problem, then technically everything else can fall into place behind it."

Check out more of Will's work in a variety of genres on his website www.willpryce.com.