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Using Candlelight in Photography

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX 100

Shrimp and Sake Take 2

photo credit - craig42k (that's me)


The Photography Lesson

Jon Washburn helped me with some photography last week at Pat Kennedy's house. Pat Kennedy hosted the DC area Active Rain gathering while Jon was in town for his presentation to NAR. In a conversation about Social Media, I explained I'm following Teresa Boardman, Kristal Kraft and Chris Griffith on Flickr, whose photography I enjoy, admire and try to emulate.

We took two photos where the Sake was the subject. In both pictures, we turned the flash off, positioned the camera on the table and set the timer. The photo above is the 2nd one.


Jon Washburn and Craig Barrett

photo credit - Margaret Woda


The difference between the two though was Jon had me move the Sake closer to the camera in the second photo. He also had me raise the camera how I wanted, by using the ring from the Sake cap, and position the candle so we could get a reflection in the Sake.

Jon explained natural lighting and lens are very important in capturing depth photography. The larger the maximum aperture (size of the hole), the more light the lens will allow in, the more natural or real the photo will look. I thought that was very thoughtful of him to share his experience with me.


Subtle Change, Dramatic Difference

                      Shrimp and Sake Take 1Shrimp and Sake Take 2


Here are the two photos side-by-side. While the lesson was brief, it was not short on usefulness, it was fairly comprehensive. You can see the reflection of the candlelight in the second photo. The color of the shrimp is also brought out and the reflection from the blue plate is caught from the glass table.

Are there any other differences that you see?


Photography 101

I realize some of these techniques are probably photography 101, I thought I'd share my experience and what I learned. Even though my hardware is old and limited and really don't know what I'm doing, I had a blast doing this and thought the outcome was pretty darn cool.

Do you have some photography tricks, thoughts, ideas or experience you'd like to share?

Comments (62)

Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Ah Craig, I finally understood that I'm a realtor and a blogger. Now a photographer too??? Just kidding. The difference really is dramatic. Question. You said your camera is old. It looks like a digital NO?

Feb 01, 2009 10:54 PM
Doug Leugers
Leugers Real Estate Experts - Naples, FL
Doug Leugers Real Estate Advisors

Craig, thanks for sharing.  Photography 101 is what we need.

Feb 01, 2009 10:58 PM
Erik Hitzelberger
RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes - Louisville, KY
Louisville - Middletown Real Estate

Craig - It is amazing how much difference can be made by adjusting a few minor details.  As several people mentioned, capturing a house at dusk (or sunrise) can really yield some great results.

Feb 02, 2009 12:01 AM
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes

I love transforming pictures. Sometimes I take photos and distort them to get ideas to paint on canvas. It helps me to paint more primitive and not be exact all the time.

Feb 02, 2009 01:39 AM
Tim Monciref - Austin, TX
Over 2,000 homes sold…..

Very clever.... Pictures sell.  More candle power...

Feb 02, 2009 03:19 AM
The Rains Team
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners - Hoschton, GA
A higher standard in real estate

Craig: Thanks for the photography lesson! I love taking pictures and I have a pretty artistic eye, but I don't really know much about technique, so I really enjoyed learning from your post.

Have a great day,

Anne Rains

Feb 02, 2009 04:53 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Is there anything Jon Washburn doesn't know ? It may be simple but I learned so much for this post.

Feb 02, 2009 05:20 AM
Kris Kombrink ~ The Kombrink Team
RE/MAX Excels - Chicago's Western Suburbs - Geneva, IL

Thanks for the tip here, Craig.  Aside from photographing houses I like to dabble in it on the side.

Feb 02, 2009 08:11 AM
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Who would have thought that simple change would make such a big difference?  I"m so glad you shared this with all of us.  I'm with many others that have commented so far...lacking in photography skills :)  Ditto to Missy Caulks comment...is there anything Jon doesn't know?

Feb 02, 2009 10:17 AM
Kerry Jenkins
Prime Properties - Crestline, CA

Nice...I love taking candlelight pictures too!  And table top pics as I call them(where you have your camera on the table, as you did above).  They're super sneaky cause usually you get some great candid shots of friends and fam.

Feb 02, 2009 10:21 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Craig ~ The photo looks great, and so does the shrimp and sake!  I'll bet it was a fun party at Pat's house!

Feb 02, 2009 01:21 PM
Craig W. Barrett
RE/MAX 100 - Hughesville, MD
Hughesville MD Real Estate

All - Thank you for sharing your tips and experiences. I think we all benefit from it.

Pat, Margaret and James - Isn't it cool?!? Man, that was off-the-hook fun!

Herb and Virginia - I didn't know that. I had always assumed the brightest part of the day was best. 5pm, here I come.

Matt - No doubt Teresa is brilliant with photography. You should check out Kristal's and Chris's photographs. You know I am always happy to share what I learn.

Jennifer - Cool tip! I get it.

Gail - I've heard of HDR, but haven't explored it. Thanks for pointing out the HDR group.

Connie - It is a digital camera, but it's almost 5 years old.

Deb - Placing the camera on the table and setting the timer mitigates the risk of blurring.

Michael - Hey, that's pretty cool.

Missy - No kidding, it seemed we talked about everything... you name it. I found Jon to be very interesting, plus he's a runner! He didn't bring his running stuff, otherwise I'd have met him downtown to go for a run and we'd have some running photos too.

and Elizabeth - I'm right there with ya.


Feb 02, 2009 01:38 PM
Peter Reese
Pacific Grand Estates - Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Luxury Real Estate Agent - Rancho Santa Fe

Great Photo example. Thanks for posting!

Feb 02, 2009 02:24 PM
Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist
Kingsbridge Realty, Inc - Hubert, NC

Nice....I need some photography lessons--it's on my "to do list".  Amazing what small changes can do for a photo.

Feb 02, 2009 10:16 PM
Connie Goodrich
Keller Williams Realty - McKinney, TX
CRS ABR (McKinney Realtor)Texas

For us who have not taken photography 101 this was great info!  I appreciate the tip.

Feb 03, 2009 12:21 AM
Craig W. Barrett
RE/MAX 100 - Hughesville, MD
Hughesville MD Real Estate

 Hi Michael! - Long time no see? Haha. I bet the coastal sun sets and the light displayed is off-the-hook!

Feb 18, 2009 01:49 PM
Michael Provost

Just after the golden hour, try holding your camera into the brightest part of the sky then push the shutter button down half way and don't let go. Now compose your shot, still holding it half way and now press it the rest of the way down.

If it is the right time you will get dramatic color in the sky. If you had something cool, like a catus, in the forground, then your photo will not just be all sky.

Michael Provost



PS I have a sunset shot on my site, I was trying to make it show up here. If anyone knows how to insert a photo in this blog let me know.


Feb 21, 2009 02:32 PM
Craig W. Barrett
RE/MAX 100 - Hughesville, MD
Hughesville MD Real Estate

Hey Michael, You've got some great shots on your site! I don't think you can insert a photo, but I will gladly do that for you and include a click through to your site. Email me the photo craigwbarrett at gmail dot com.

Feb 22, 2009 01:08 AM
Jen Anderson
Exit By the Bay Realty - Chesapeake Beach, MD

Thanks for sharing the photography tips!  I will have to try them out.

Apr 11, 2009 06:37 AM
Barbara Raley
The McNelis Group,LLC - Solomons, MD
When you think of Real Estate, think of me!

Craig, Great post. The adjustments mean everything in photography. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day Barbara

Jul 12, 2009 01:12 AM