Dusk = 6:57 PM

There is a point on a clear evening with a crisp blue sky when everything seems to be in harmony. Calm and serene yet vibrant at the same time, an electric atmosphere hangs in the air for a short period, a merging of darkness and light. The lighting on the buildings is seen in balance against the remaining blue light of the sky and the city seems especially alive. This is why I enjoy dusk; photographing lighting projects is why I spend a lot of time waiting for it!

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Regent Street, Lighting by Studio-29

If I google ‘dusk’ it says 6:57 PM Friday, October 7, 2016 (BST), Dusk in London, UK.  All very precise, according to this dusk will be happening 33 minutes after sunset.  Wikipedia then tells me that Dusk is actually short for ‘Astronomical Dusk’, or the darkest part of twilight before night begins. This is part of a whole sequence of events that lead from day into night – sunset, civil twilight, civil dusk, nautical twilight, nautical dusk, astronomical twilight and then astronomical dusk all occur before ‘nightfall’.  Time measured against the course of the sun.

Minute changes in light level, angle of sun and colour of  sky are what we will see as this process unfolds, this is one of the times where we can most vividly experience the minute by minute changes occurring around us. Flux in action – visible.

The following images (Lower Regent Street, lighting by Studio-29) illustrate an exercise in recording and viewing these changes. When seen together they allow us to observe the balance shifting within the scene; the sky darkens and the emphasis drops onto illuminated windows, traffic on the street and building facade lighting. As one aspect of the city dissolves another appears.

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Sunset
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Sunset + 5mins
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Sunset + 10 mins
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Sunset + 15 mins
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Sunset + 20 mins

My rule of thumb for project photography is sunset +20 minutes, this is usually the time I can start taking the photographs.  Pre-planning will allow me to have mentally ‘set up’ a number of images and then it is a race against time to try to get them all done during dusk.

All of this will depend upon the project, the local environment, the level of artificial light, the amount of sky that is visible in the image, the weather, cloud cover and what is happening at the location.  So there are many factors that will help me to decide when I am going to take the photographs but ultimately it just feels right at the time.

One Store, Three Stories

Photography has to translate the finished scheme into visual material that accurately portrays the project.  It is by these images that the majority of viewers will see the scheme, most will not enter the actual ‘space’ at all, so it is the photographs that have to convey this experience.  The lighting brief for Hedonism Wines was to create a strong and lasting impression of the store when seen from the outside, so it may come as a surprise to learn that Speirs + Major achieved this by switching their carefully integrated lighting solution off once the store was closed.  By creating a dark space they were free to use light to its full potential and bring the store to life in a way that captures the attention of passers by, both on foot and in cars alike.  The brief for the photography was to transfer this effect to the screen through images.  The lighting is ‘living’, so the images had to come to life too.

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Located in an area of London where fashion, luxury and heritage come together it was vital to create a strong first impression from outside, and to carry that through to the striking interiors.

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The architectural lighting element of the project is fully integrated with the interior, allowing the focus to remain on the merchandise which is clearly and atmospherically lit.  The images had to show this whilst accurately portraying the 3000K colour temperature which was used to bring out the warm hues of the brick and timber used within.

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Additional details were required to show the feature chandelier in the centre of the space, this provides a focal point in the centre of the store and the staircase which links the two floors.  Made from upturned wine glasses it is arranged as a flowing contour map representative of a vineyard landscape.

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Realised by Lighting Designer Jonathan Coles, the chandelier was a small project in its own right and was photographed as such.  This included a series of views and details within the darkened space which isolated the glasses from their surroundings and enhanced the lit effect.

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The basement has a cellar like atmosphere with copper pendants suspended from a dark ceiling.  Whilst illustrating the lit effect it is important that the images convey the atmosphere of the store as well as being accurate in terms of quality and quantity of light.

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This includes bringing certain elements to life such as these display cases.  Linked to sensors to detect approaching customers, light levels are increased to provide a clearer view of the bottles once there.  Sequential images were overlaid and animated to illustrate this concept.

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Whether it is a carefully considered series of stills, abstract details, animated series, or a short video I can provide project photography that works on many levels and across many formats to ensure that your project has the widest reach it possibly can.

Is it time to bring your projects to life?