Put Art Back on the Wall

I enjoy using retouching skills to support clients. Other than basic post-processing for color and tonality, “fixing” problems is billed separately: perhaps there were spots on a wall which are scheduled for repair after the photography. I once shot a property while the electrician was installing wiring, so I cleaned up open wall boxes and excess visible wiring. Sometimes I have to take out the landscaping debris because I got there before the landscaper.

A small condo in Puako I had photographed three years earlier got a nice re-design: walls were brighter, furniture changed a bit, and there were nice new fabrics. 2 Papayas, LLC, the vacation rental managers for the space, asked me to show the condo’s changes, and in discussions with Mary Fox of 2 Papayas, we decided to upgrade the photography so the advantages of the location and the cost advantages of the stay would be more evident. This meant bringing lighting and working with a little staging or set dressing – which I love, anyway.

But there was going to be one big visual problem: a particular piece of wall art would be missing during the only days available for a shoot. Further, wall art had been updated in the Master Bedroom, and we planned to use one older bedroom shot (from my previous photo assignment.)Wrong painting on the wall.

First task: my final photo must show the owners’ missing art piece. The condo’s owners loved a set of wood voyaging canoe sculptures which had graced the living room wall for years. Guests had always liked them, too, and comments in the visitors’ book often mentioned them. My solution to the problem of the missing wall art was to go back to the files of the original shoot and allow one of those old exposures to “show through” a current photo of the new living room seen at the same angle. I massaged one of the older frames to match the new tonality and made a special transparent Photoshop layer that included the art to float in the right place and at the right size and perspective for the room as it now looked.

A similar process “swapped” the art in the bedroom, with the big advantage that in this case the new art was already there and had straight-edge borders, unlike the wooden voyaging canoes in the living room. Place that new painting back into the older shot, adjust the frame’s perspective, and we’re done!

By the way, can you spot the tough photographic-problem-piece-of-furniture in the living room? Not the interesting round chair. Not the lamp that was leaning in the wrong direction and not the couch. It was the glass-topped coffee table that reflected an upper quadrant of sky not seen in the shot. This sky was always very different than the outdoors we could see in the frame of the shot. The glass was too reflective for easy tone and color control so required its own fancy layer footwork in Photoshop.

Ask me about another tough problem overcome in the foreground if you need shots like this.