View Full Version : Lighting for interiors

Ben Calwell
12-Dec-2018, 17:36
Not sure I've started this under the right subject heading as it doesn't strictly apply to large format, but I have an interest in doing real estate photography. In my research on the topic (mostly Youtube), I'm finding that many interior photographers are using HDR and/or blending multiple exposures in Photoshop. They'll use strobes, shoot several photos of a room and then use Photoshop or Lightroom techniques -- masks, layers, brushes etc. -- to further tweak their images, getting rid of shadows and so forth. I have to confess that what they're doing is confusing to me. Is it not possible to just light a room carefully and get most of the final image done in-camera without having to resort to a lot of time consuming post processing?

Mark Sampson
12-Dec-2018, 18:48
Of course it's possible to light a room carefully and get it in one shot. That's how we used to do it in the good old days of film- and we burned a lot of Polaroid shooting tests. That takes skill and time. The profit margins, and time constraints in real estate (as opposed to architectural) photography are so razor-thin that RE shooters tend to just "run'n'gun" and fix it all in post. Not that there's anything wrong with that approach; it's just how it is today. In many cases it makes situations that were once a real challenge to shoot relatively easy to get done- a good thing when you want to get paid. Which is the point here, after all. I wouldn't want to go back to shooting architecture in 4x5... If we're lucky, our Mr. Gittings will have a comment; his opinion will be worth more than mine.

12-Dec-2018, 18:58
Is it not possible to just light a room carefully and get most of the final image done in-camera without having to resort to a lot of time consuming post processing?

But that would not make as good a youtube video. It seems quicker to me to properly light the room and spend less time on the computer. Just a couple strobes and the right time of day and it's almost easy.

A camera like the Matterport 3d Camera does it all and saves you the photoshop work.

12-Dec-2018, 19:02
No need for HDR right away. Bounce flash off the ceiling will go a long way into your issue. A bare bulb flash is even better.

12-Dec-2018, 20:09
With a large crew, tons of time and a grip truck anything is possible... ;) There is a big difference in style between the photos shot in the 80's and 90's on slide film and what is done today. In the past everything look lit - there were even shadows behind lit lamps from the strobes! Cross shadows were everywhere even with high end work in AD. Interiors now should look natural, even when lit. Shooting multiple plates saves time, and produces a better image. You can treat each individual area of the composition as it's own and then combine later to get a "perfect" natural photo. So a light can be placed in the frame, or allowed to create a reflection because it's going to be edited out with another plate. It can get very complicated, but will save a ton of time on set(which is expensive).

That being said, I don't think most real estate photogs work that way - I imagine it's mostly set the camera exposure for the windows, then add a bounced flash off the ceiling/wall/window behind the camera to bring the level up. Keep in mind that interior and re photography are very different - different clients/expectations/workflows/budgets/etc.

Ben Calwell
13-Dec-2018, 08:09
Thanks for the replies. I'm old school and believe that a decent interior photo can be shot using lights carefully without a lot of work at the computer later. But I must say that the Youtube real estate photo folks come away with some nice images using their multiple exposures, layers and brushes.