‘The Sandbox,’ a home in Palm Beach I shot for Karen True, turned out to produce some of my favorite images in my portflolio. This house had just been recently completed and the whole place, inside and out, looked like it had just come out of an interior design magazine…or at least a Pottery Barn catalog. South Florida is overloaded with Mediterranean styled / stucco walled / tile roofed homes. This place, with it’s shake roof, wood siding, and Cape Cod-ish style architecture is certainly unique around these parts and was a welcome change of pace from what I normally encounter in Palm Beach.
Since the property is surrounded by ficus hedges, there’s no real benefit to intensely lighting the rooms with tons of watt-seconds to match the brightness of the view outside the windows. So I shot most of the rooms with very subtle fill flash from a couple strobes, or we shot 100% ambient. The intent is showcase the ambiance of the rooms as they look to someone who is actually standing there. I love shooting ambient, but it doesn’t always suit the assginment or the subject.
Which brings me to the next thing I love…twilight photography.
The Magic Hour is referred to by many photographers as the ideal time to photograph anything that happens to be outside. And it’s true. There’s nothing like a portrait or landscape (or a building, for that matter) taken with that diffuse, golden sunlight falling on your subject. But with twilight architectural photography, it’s really more like the Magic 3 Minutes. Beacause that’s the amount of time you have to make the perfect twilight shot. It happens about 15 minutes or so after the sun has gone beyond the horizon and the light changes that quickly as it gets darker and darker. Once the ambient exposure precisely matches the exposure of the windows to theinterior of the home, that’s when you get your shot. 3 minutes too early and you don’t get the ‘tungten glow.’ 3 minutes too late and the windows can become overexposed and you will lose the all-important detail in those areas.
Don’t get me wrong. You can capture perfectly passable twilight shots for about 20 or even 30 minutes after the sun goes down. There are lots of techniques to capture twilights before or after that perfect time, like supplemental lighting, exposure blending, and HDR. And I proudly use those techniques as well. But having patience and perfect timing will produce the perfect twilight in one click of the shutter, in one frame, once you get to that Magic 3 Minutes. This gig gave me that perfect twilight and it has been among my favorites to date.