Saturday, March 26, 2016

Photographing a Wild In-Home Discotheque for an Audio Visual Company in Atlanta

I was asked to take photos for a prominent Audio and Visual installation company working in the Atlanta area named Performance Audio and Video. The photographs were needed for an online industry article written about PAV.

If you are the type of person who gets excited about home automation and advanced control of the distributed A/V, heating, lighting, security and window blind components in your house, then you should consider giving them a call. All the information you need is located at, which is a web site I completed for them last year.

I got a glimpse into what PAV does by taking photos of various installations in a recently renovated mansion in north Atlanta. At first, this may just look like a regular living room. The great thing about the home automation products is that they work in the background, and are accessed using television screens, iPads, iPhones and wall control panels. You may never even know that they are there, until you need them.

The photograph was tricky because I was mixing several different colored light sources with my large  flashes. The room was tight and enclosed with rough hewn divider walls, which essentially determined my choice for viewpoint. Below you can see a little behind-the-scenes of the flashes.  

The other shot needed was for the daddy of all outdoor porches. There are a lot of hidden details here so I am going to mention a few. Along with inline heater units, there are speakers faux-painted to match the wood used in the ceiling. You can barely even see them even a few feet away. There is an outdoor television and fully automated floor to ceiling screens that close the porch off from Atlanta's famous mosquitoes. We lowered the screens to act darkness the brighter outside yard. They acted like neutral density filters allowing me to make the photograph in one shot.

Normally, several images might need to be composited together since the exposure of the darker porch and the lighter yard is beyond the latitude of my camera's sensor. I used a couple of flashes the light the foreground area. Below is what the camera would see if I just clicked the shutter.

Behind-the-Scenes: How the camera would see the terrace without my flashes
The last room was quite a challenge. Try to make a photograph of an in-home discotheque that has black walls, a fiber optic star ceiling, mirrored dance floor, DJ booth, VIP couch and a professional level of booming sound, lights, lasers and smoke machine. I had my work cut out for me as you can see in the disco video here.

 Play the video

This disco is intimate and everything can be seen in the wall mirrors. Using a wide angle lens meant that it was difficult to hide my light stands, the camera on a tripod and myself.  Smoke allowed the laser spots and lights to be seen. I might have breathed in a quart of the oil based smoke. Delicious!

If I cannot light something directly, then lighting the space behind it works even better. I added a remote flash that was gelled with pink behind the DJ booth. This gave a focal point to the room.

I asked Jason Caponi of PAV to program the disco lights to slow down and stay in one spot for as long as possible. This was needed because the long exposure combined with the constantly moving lights rendered the colors that you see in the image above practically invisible to the camera sensor. It was quite a balancing act and I am glad that I was able to get something before our time ran out.