Photographing A Hungarian Countryside Home, Part Two: With or Without You?

Photographing A Hungarian Countryside Home, Part Two: With or Without You?

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In part two of my behind-the-scenes series in the Hungarian countryside, I’m going to jump into (ha ha…) a more complicated daylight image that I created. This image, like anything in architectural photography, contains quite a bit more than meets the eye, and utilized many different techniques to put together a visually harmonious image.

First of all, I want to thank for B-13 Architects the opportunity to photograph this beautiful house.

The house was shot many times by other photographers, so I knew there would be a lovely infinity pool, which I want to show in my set of images. So like any smart photographer, I did some pre-production before I even got to the location. I left with my camera equipment, a towel, and a bathing suit (swimming trunks for those of us not using American ‘freedom words’ ;))


The basic idea for my image was inspired by Zooey Braun. ‘Haus am Wald, Stuttgart’ – Alexander Brenner Architekten

Finding the composition was pretty easy, I decided to show the entire house from a two-point perspective because I had a feeling the twilight hero shot would be a one point perspective and I didn’t want to create repetitive images.

The gear I used to create the image was relatively straightforward: a Nikon D810, Nikon 24mm TS, Nikon 1.7 extender and a CamRanger. I wanted to have a longer focal length, so the person and the pool closer to the camera would not be too dominant in the image compared to the house as they may be with a wide angle lens. At 41mm it was impossible to have the house and the pool in one image, so I had to create a shift-pano, and I will show you how you can stitch two images together.

Shift-Panorama stitch

There are many ways to make a panoramic image stitching. Here are two of them which work for me.

The fastest in Lightroom Ctrl+M for ‘Panorama Merge’. Almost every time I choose ‘Perspective’

After Lightroom merges the two images, it will save as a DNG file, so that will be still a raw file rather than a JPEG. You are able to change the color temperature and everything else just like on a normal raw file. This is the most significant advantage of using LR for the stitching; luckily it is fast, easy, and works pretty well most of the time.

In Photoshop using ‘Difference’ blending mode, you can see clearly when are the images in the right place.

I will sometimes use Photoshop for panorama stitching, but usually only if LR doesn’t provide the result I’m looking for or I want to add some elements (moving cars, peoples, etc.) from other frames than the base images. This is how I do it:

1. In LR select the images, right click -> Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop
2. Select ‘Difference’ blending mode and try to align images as perfect as possible.
3. Extend the canvas to the required size with the ‘Crop’ tool. (There is a more complicated way: Image -> Canvas size Alt+Crtl+C -> Now guess a number, move the layers to their place and crop a bit for the exact size.)
4. Change back the blend mode to ‘Normal’, and refine the transition between images with a layer mask and a big soft brush.

Adding elements and objects of interest

The curtains

The curtains were an essential element of the design as the architect mentioned, so I wanted to highlight them by adding some movement. I made a mistake by leaving my camera bracketing, the first frame was 2 stops underexposed, but this is what I needed.

On the left side, you can see how underexposed the best image for the left curtain movement was.
This is a quick way to fix something like this in LR: select an image with the right exposure with the underexposed image together -> Develop module -> Settings -> Match Total Exposures

Lightroom is doing some calculations based on the EXIF data and evens out the exposures by adding the exact number of stops as needed. Be aware that LR does not consider the content of the image, so if the sun is hiding, for example, there may be differences in luminance despite the same exposure. One other thing is that the curtain is a small element of the image and a bright one, so I’m comfortable to use an image which was 2,5 stop underexposed, but for a bigger and darker part of the frame, I would use it with extra caution or not use at all.

The jumping guy

I thought at the beginning it would take 2-3 jumps for the perfect pose, but I was wrong. I was jumping into the pool for like 45 minutes until I finally had the image I liked. OMG.

During this period of time, the shadows changed a lot, as you can see on the closest chair to the figure. It is in the shade and I like it that way, because now the chairs are more evenly lit (or not lit) and it doesn’t attract your eye so much.

I added me jumping in with a layer mask, carefully near the edge of the pool, where my footsteps were present, but I wanted to leave them out of the final image.

Now I just had to remove some distracting elements: the trees near to the roof which looked like they are growing out of the roof, the dead tree on the right, some leaves on the left side on the image, and the lighting-conductors. I made a curves layer to brighten up some parts of the image, and after that I merged everything together and finished the image with Color Efex Pro by adding some contrast as I showed you in my first article.

Last year when we made our contest this image got the most comments. Some were in love with it and liked the blurred person very much, and there were a lot of people who disliked it just because of the person and the blurriness were too distracting for them. There is nothing left but to ask your opinion: with or without me? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for reading and as always I hope you learned something new.

About György Palkó
Hello! I'm György (or George) an architectural and interiors photographer based in Hungary, father of a beautiful little girl and a happy husband.