Lighting a 35-Storey Hotel by Light Painting with 8 Lights

Here’s a behind-the-scenes video in which photographer Mike Butler walks through how he went about planning and photographing the 35-storey Hotel Intercontinental in Downtown Miami using 8 1000W DP lights by light painting portions of the scene and stitching them all together in post.

(via DPS)

  • Melo

    Pretty impressive amount of work and planning involved.  The image came out really well.

  • David Dvir

    Kind of looks rendered/fake to me.  Makes me wonder if that’s the desired result why not just do it all in a computer generated image?  It was really cool to see, but again just looks kind of unnatural/fake to me.  

  • JamesMcDaniel

    I find it fascinating that many people find much of big-brand professional food photography “fake” but don’t blink an eye at this level of manufacturing a photo.

  • 9inchnail

    Well, food photos are not really fake, the food itself or at least parts of it are fake but the photos are not. This looks fake because they added light where there was none. I mean, you don’t see people with lights painting the hotel, there are no other lights that could be illuminating the hotel so you ask yourself, why the hotel stands out so much from the rest. Doesn’t look natural.

    I think, this is way too much work. I’d propably would have shot the hotel an hour before sunset and then again as soon as it’s dark. Combine those shots, mask the hotel and you get a similar picture. Not much more natural but less effort.

  • will hall

    The light they painted on seems pretty uniform, to what extend could the same effect have been achieved by HDRi to up the brightness of areas… I find light painting a little more interesting when it’s used to highlight certain areas rather than everything, or used to cast shadows to add texture, e.g and

  • Ndt

    Could have been done easier and cheaper? Probably.  But often times, clients need to be shown that the amount of money they are paying is justified.
    The photographers day rate is justified to the client by doing it in a way that demonstrates a high level of skill. It helps to ‘show’ your client why your charging $20k for one image, and a price like that is more than justifiable for a multinational client who will use the image heavily for marketing etc..

  • 9inchnail

    So we all should put needless and exaggerated effort into our work to justify our salary?


    You can see in the video how the scene looks like without light painting. HDR can amplify existing light but if there is none or it is shitty like here, it won’t make the shot. I think they overdid it a bit but i understand the idea.

    What i don’t understand though, is why use a 24 mm + 1.4x teleconverter instead of a proper 35 mm lens. Considering the likely budget of this assignment and preparation involved, why wouldn’t he just rent one ?

  • Lukas

    he said it was 24mm TS-E, the nearest Canon tilt-shift lens seems to be 45mm, which was quite long for this purpose…

  • Collene Tsai

    why wouldn’t he just rent one ?