Photographing luxury homes is perhaps some of the most enjoyable and challenging. They often have grand and imposing features which require particular attention. Some have indoor or outdoor swimming pool which can be difficult to photograph. Problems include reflections, heat, humidity, colours and general safety.
Read on for tips on how to get the most out of photographing a luxury swimming pool.
Challenges of Photographing Swimming Pools
To overcome the challenges of dark water, cavernous indoor spaces and often minimal furniture requires a mix of technical know-how and advanced planning. Consideration should also be given to humidity, high temperatures and the ever present risk of handling expensive equipment near water. To minimise risk to yourself and your photography gear it is important to thoroughly familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Be aware of any trip hazards like small pieces of furniture, steps and platforms and most importantly, the edge of the pool itself. As you would recce any location for photography, just make sure all these extra details are mentally logged.
The first thing you will likely notice about an luxury indoor pool room is the high, humid temperature. This is for the comfort of people swimming but will not help the photographer. If possible, ask ahead of time if the ambient air temperature of the pool room can be reduced to a more workable temperature (around 18-20°C instead of the typical 30°C). If you are coming from a colder area into the warm air of the pool room you will need to allow some time for your equipment to come up to temperature. This will help avoid condensation forming on the glass elements as soon as you take them out.
Unfortunately with most of the floor space taken up by the pool, options for different angles are limited. That said, you effectively have a large mirrored surface which can, in the right circumstances, be used creatively.
Luxury Swimming Pool Photography
The example we are going to work through is a pool adjoining a dining area and separate changing room.
First, different exposures were taken of the room with all the lights turned on, to be stitched together later in Photoshop. You can read more about stitching multiple photographs together here.
Multiple exposures, over-exposed, average and under-exposed.
The swimming pool appears an odd colour due to the lighting and the reflections. To correct this, the lights were turned down except for the lights in the pool and an off-camera flash and polarising filter were used to introduce extra lighting and cut through reflections, below:
These images are then brought together in Adobe Photoshop and carefully stitched together. Other distracting elements were also removed (cloned out) to produce a cleaner image. To further enhance the blue of the pool, add a ‘Solid Colour’ adjustment layer with a suitable colour blue and set it as the layer above the pool with the Blending Mode ‘Colour’. See below the masked area to match the pool, with the blue still at full opacity:
Masked off blue Solid Colour set to Blending Mode: ‘Colour’
It will need to be set with a low opacity to ensure it still looks lifelike.
Here is the final blended and enhanced image with all the layers brought together: