In the realm of commercial advertising photography, each project reveals it’s unique set of challenges. Today, I am thinking about an upcoming project that involves capturing the vibrancy of the interior of a music store through it’s large front window. This will be shot from the outside looking in during daylight hours.   The challenge will undoubtably be:  reflections, reflections of the street and traffic that will obscure the inside of the store and it’s products.

There are a few ways to reveal the detail of the interior of the store. Once I settle on the best approach, by thinking about it beforehand, I need to commit on site.  Time is of the essence so to begin with a plan and abandon it half way through for whatever reason, is not an option.

Projected best solution: Overpowering outdoor ambient light with powerful strobe lighting inside the store.  Instead of mitigating reflections on the outside of the window, I plan to overpower them by pouring added light into the store’s interior with powerful strobe lights.  I will employ 2 Paul C. Buff Alien Bee 1400 watt second strobes set at full power.   I will place them out of sight in each corner of the interior of the store to light up the large retail space.

Strategically placed within the store, these lights will illuminate the interior.  The added lights should overpower the ambient daylight outside that creates reflections on the storefront window.  As I mentioned, I will be shooting from the outside looking in.  I will have my 2 Alien Bee strobe lights connected to Pocket Wizard AC9 and Flex TT5 radio adaptors to wirelessly trigger the strobes from my camera.   (A long sync cord would be unfeasible to use because of distance and obstructions within the store.)

Crafting the Perfect Balance of Light.   It’s not just about flooding the store with light, but more importantly it is about achieving the perfect balance of interior light (produced by he strobes) to act in harmony with the natural outdoor light and it must look natural.

Fine-Tuning  The process involves a series of adjustments, on the camera (f-stop, shutter speed and iso) and with my lighting.  Placement of strobe lights, modulating their power, and deciding if diffusion is necessary to soften harsh shadows are all steps towards the desired outcome.

My goal is clear: to capture the store’s interior with clarity and, at the same time, minimizing the natural reflections from the street that would obscure the interior view.  I plan to do this by overpowering the outdoor natural light with powerful interior strobe lighting, positioned out of sight in the corners of the store aimed toward the interior. There will be final images with and without hired models.  Illuminating the talent will require a separate strobe light, set up outside, aimed at him/her – also triggered wirelessly by radio slaves.

After much thought and planning, I also realize the unexpected threatens.   There could be issues with the equipment (radio slave transmitter and transceivers), cold weather’s effect on the camera battery  (I will be shooting in the middle of January in Wisconsin), unexpected architectural elements that create uncontrollable reflections on the window, issues with illuminating the models in the window, etc…etc.

All this is simply a pre-photoshoot plan of what I think I can control.

I will post again after the photoshoot.  Storefront photography done during daylight hours (with and without models), with the intent to capture a naturally lit environment both inside and out, is my goal.  Minimal window reflections is the challenge and controlling the light I am able to control is the secret.

I do have another idea.  If what I have planned, as explained above, fails – I have one other solution.  If I do not mentioned it in my next post, I did not need it.

This all could have been made a lot easier if we shot after the sun went down!

Stay tuned.


2 of these lights, radio slaved to a transceiver on my camera should be instant powerful interior daylight!
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