Michelle Reid our host and tour guide for the event provided us with camera and lens recommendations to use inside the house before the tour began. Michelle also suggested some photo gear etiquette to follow during the shoot. Having gotten that information before hand really helped me to plan on what to bring on the tour.
Rosson House is a Victorian house and it is typically dark inside even with the window shades open so you need a camera capable of high ISO and a very fast lens. Flash photography is not allowed. We were allowed to use tripods or mono pods during the tour with the admonition to not lean them against the walls.
Rosson House is very impressive both inside and out. The most interesting fact provided by Michelle was that much of the building materials used to build the house were purchased from the Sears Roebuck catalogue.
Following Michelle’s advice I decided to bring a 50mm f-1.8 lens along with a 100mm f-2.8 macro and a 17-40 f-4L lens with me. My lens choices were based on knowing that typically Victorian houses had small rooms and a telephoto lens would have been useless. I thought the macro lens would be great for some of the unusual patterns and small knick knacks that might be found inside. And against all reason I left my tripod in the trunk of my car!
The house interior presents many lighting challenges because of the light coming through the outside windows created hot spots in an otherwise dark room. Yes the house had electricity and there were lights. One has to think in terms of “illuminated darkness” a term I heard in a movie once. The ceiling lights were maybe 60 or 100 watt bulbs in a ten by ten room. Also the house has transoms which are different colours so you get different colour streaks through your photos in some areas.
There were so many photo choices inside the house that it was difficult to decide on what to shoot first. I thought of this first visit as a scouting mission. So taking your time is a must. Even with the small number of people that were on the tour there were certain areas where we seemed to be on top of each other. This is unavoidable because some places are much more interesting than others. It would be best to go to another room and wait for the chance to go back when the opportunity arises. Some of the rooms cannot accommodate two photographers with their tripods.
What I learned on this photo tour:
1. Bring your tripod so you can use lower ISO’s.
2. The nifty fifty is a good choice, but a wide lens (17-40 or around that length) would also work well. If you are using a Tripod then ISO and f-stop shouldn't be an issue. Two second delay will act like a cable release.
3. Take portrait and landscape photos of the same scene. I’d say HDR might work but the windows will still be a ‘hot’ spot so that’s why I recommend using merge instead.
4. In the north facing rooms use spot metering to expose for the windows and follow that with a second exposure of the room with average metering. You can merge the two in PS found under File>automate>photo merge. Then using a layer mask and a large soft paint brush paint the two images so the exposure is equal.
5. We were in the house for quite a while so the lighting changes as the sun moves. The afternoon tour means that it gets darker as time goes by.
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