How to shoot Interiors
Lenses- For shooting interiors you must have wide and extreme wide angle lenses even though you may not always use them in all your pictures.
Camera body- Ideally you should have a full frame camera as that will give you the true focal length on wide angle lenses. Thus you will be able to get the actual wide angle of view compared to what you will get from the DX format.
Tripod- The stability of the tripod is a very important factor in the sharpness of the images. Long exposure just wont be possible without a sturdy tripod.
Neutral graduated filter- You will come accross a lot of areas which have extreme contrast. Typically, the chandellier in the middle of the hotel lobby is too bright compared to the rest of the dark wooden furniture, leather upholstery, wood panelling etc. camera reads the light and in this case the light is comming almost only from the brightest part of the picture which is the source of light itself. This exposre may lead to underexposure of the lobby. either one may use
1. external continuous tungsten (or the same source as of ambiant light) light to fill in the shadow area and thus reduce the contrast.
2. Use a dedicated camera flash bounced from a large reflector.
3. Mains powered studio lights fitted with softboxes or umbrellas to fill in the shadow areas. you will need to check the exposure with an external flash meter and work it out in a way so as to balance the white light of the strobes with the ambient light. depending on the aperture and shutter speed combination you may choose to make your pictures look warmer or cooler. generaly, change of shutter speed will play a role in the effect of ambiant continuous light where as change in the aperture will influence the impact of the flash light.
How to reduce vibration-
Mirror lock up- This reduces the vibration caused by the camera itself.
self timer- this also helps in reducing the vibration which the photographer may himself add to the camera.
VR/IS- these modes are supposed to be kept off while the camera is on a tripod
ISO- these days the cameras are much better at higher ISO s as they were a few years back. with people in the frame you may go for a slightly higher ISO to avoid showing their movement. If there is no movement, lower ISO is always a better option.
How to reduce distortion- Do not use the extreme wide angle lens unless there is no other option. You may rather step back instead of going wide. Also, if you need to do so, exclude the lements in the foreground. remmember, that it is the nearness of the subject to the lens which causes the distortion and not the lens itself. If all the elements are at almost same distance from the lens, the distortion if any will not be noticeable.
make sure that no external elements are adding to the vibration- for example- moving overhead cranes in factories or people walking on carpeted/wooden floors. Anything that may cause vibration to the tripod may be stopped at least at the time of the actual exposure.
Keep the contrast normal instead of high-
strobes for fill light-
Do not kill the ambiance- Lighting plays an important part of the interior designing. Our pictures should be such so as to reveal the effect created by these lights. we may certainly use our own external lights but to fill in the shadows and to add to the illumination. however, it should not be too strong which may overpower the existing lights.
white balance- Let the final picture give the same feel as it did to the naked eye. If there is warm lighting of the tungsten bulbs in a restaurant, it is for a reason. tungsten light adds warmth and creates the mood apropriate for the restaurant.
Do not forget the objective of the pictures-
If you are shooting for an architect or interior designer, you may want to include the details as well in the pictures. In some other case showing the size and vastness of the area might be an important element. understand, what the client wnats to achive through the photoshoot.
one hetelier may want to concentarte on the ambiance of his hotel rooms while another may want to include as many amenities in the frame as possible. the former being of the opnion, that these amenities are standard and need not always be included in the picture.
Sometimes including people may add to the interior shot. however, do not let the people/models overpower the interiors. Their role is to compliment the interiors rather than take away the attention. The human elemnt adds interest and makes the image more personal and lively. Do not forget to request these peopl to avoid moving as they would not know that you are using a long exposure.
If you have large windows in the frame. decide before hand as to what will be a good time to photograph the area. Besides the interiors, the outside view play an important role in the ambiance of the room. while you can control the light inside you may not have the same conrol for the outside natural light. Choose the time of the day when the dierction of the sun is more in your favour. This will not only make a better shot but also make the overall lighting easier for you. The idea is to balance the outside and the inside light and in some cases also the inside ambient light with the strobes as well.
Munish Khanna is a well experienced creative photographer based in Delhi, India
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