Interior design Photography Locked

Started Feb 6, 2011 | Discussions
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MartynD2oo
MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Interior design Photography

Hi folks

How are the Pros doing it? HDR? multiple strobes? ambient lighting?

I'm currently scratching my head here hearing all sorts of stories into which type of photography for interior/real estate images. A lot of the images I have been seeing online look very 'lucis art' but then i'm told that people want to see 'natural ' looking images. I have been toying with HDRs but can never get windows to look anywhere near natural.

I'm using 5 shot HDRs but can't seem to get that 'pro look'.

Here's an example...

Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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Fred Klaiss Senior Member • Posts: 1,919
I see problem as photo content, not technique

Don't know if this is a home or hotel room, but nothing appeals to make me want to visit or buy. Learn to "dress the set" with plants, flowers, larger art objects, maybe a human back on the deck. Everything is mid-level or distant in the photo. Need something in the foreground to balance. Maybe a table with food, wine service, etc. Don't be afraid to rearrange furnishings, or add visuals. In other words, humanize the place. Oh, and straighten verticals.

Joergen Geerds Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: Interior design Photography

MartynD2oo wrote:

How are the Pros doing it? HDR? multiple strobes? ambient lighting?
I'm using 5 shot HDRs but can't seem to get that 'pro look'.

It's always a mix between ambient and select extra lighting.

getting the "pro-look" means getting rid of your cartoonish halo HDR look and keeping vertical lines straight (at least in shots like your example). a good start would be NOT using photomatix.

I'm currently scratching my head here hearing all sorts of stories into which type of photography for interior/real estate images. A lot of the images I have been seeing online look very 'lucis art' but then i'm told that people want to see 'natural ' looking images. I have been toying with HDRs but can never get windows to look anywhere near natural.

there is some learning ahead of you.
a good start would be http://photographyforrealestate.net/

I would also buy a couple of interior design magazines, and try to analyze how it was photographed, and try to replicate the shot either in your head, or in a test setup.

to learn about light and flash for interiors, start reading the http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

Umbris
Umbris Regular Member • Posts: 221
Re: Interior design Photography

All of the above, but very light on the HDR.

Your photo has several challenges, which, when overcome, will dramatically improve your finished product.

In no particular order:

1. Converging verticals. Learn what they are and control them.

2. Too much ceiling in the shot. A rule of thumb (if you are not using a tilt shift lens) is position the camera at about half the ceiling height (e.g. 4 ft.), or even a bit lower. Again, this is a rule of thumb and there many cases where you will want to break the rule.

3. Your choice of shooting through a (relatively dark room) toward an an outside view is perhaps the most challenging type of architectural shot. These shots frequently need to be compensated with a great deal of supplemental lighting. In this case, strobes would have been a good choice as they produce the same approximate color temperature as the outside daylight.

4. Don't shoot so wide. This is a common beginner mistake. The temptation is to capture as much of the room as possible. A better approach is to carefully compose the shot to tell a story. [I imagine myself sitting in one the chairs, enjoying the view on a pleasant Sunday afternoon...]

5. Color balancing. Notice how portions of the door frames and table top are cyan. A person in the scene would perceive them as being grey and brown(?). So in editing, you have to make adjustments to correct for these color casts. Likewise portions of the ceiling and walls are orange, green, magenta, cyan etc.

6. Portions of the chairs, ceiling beams, desk and the item on the fireplace mantel are in deep shadow. If you capture sufficient over exposures (bright frames) then you can blend in those areas for more detail, or you can use software such as Photomatix to blend the entire scene. Note however that Photomatix and other such software rarely produce good results by themselves. Additional editing in Photoshop is important.
7. The pool bar appears to be overexposed. Same advice as in #6, but reverse it.

8. I suspect that you shot this scene in two point perspective to utilize the ceiling beams as leading lines, or perhaps symmetry. I think I would have probably shot from left side of the frame looking toward the opposite corner of the room, and rearranged the seating area to work in the three point perspective composition.

9. Supplemental lighting on the interior would have helped bring out the color and vibrance of the flowers and the paintings. Simply ramping up saturation and vibrance in Photoshop is a less than optimal solution.

10. The glare on the painting on the left wall can be eliminated by shooting a separate frame while blocking the outside light from directly shining on the painting. Using a polarizing filter would another approach.

11. I see some barrel distortion, and perhaps other types of geometric distortion. Use PT Lens or equivalent to complete the task that your lens couldn't quite do.

12. Learn how to manually blend exposures in Photoshop (using masking) for best results.

I don't know if you shot five exposures at 1EV intervals, but I have personally had better results shooting as many exposures as it takes at 2EV intervals. For a scene like this, you would probably need from 5-7 exposures at 2 stops apart.

I hope this helps.

Alan
--
http://umbris.com
http://exhibitphotography.com

BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,556
Good question. Inadequate answer

I know answeringyour question with a question isn't all that helpful, but...

Maybe ...

Are you in a poisition where you can develop your own style, so people say "I want a Martynized shot."

Maybe all available light? Maybe a Wall of Light using 8x8 flat panels?

BAK

Richard Weisgrau Veteran Member • Posts: 3,530
Re: Interior design Photography

I think Umbris has said it all and very well indeed.
--
Richard Weisgrau
http://www.weisgrau.com
Author of
The Real Business of Photography
The Photographer's Guide to Negotiating
Selling Your Photography
Licensing Photography

MartynD2oo
OP MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Info.

Thanks so much for the advice. I'm taking all this onboard and can't wait to get back and improve.

I have arranged with a client for some shooting tomorrow afternoon. I will be taking my D3 &14-24 and 2x sb800's which I will use remotely to bring these rooms to life. If I have any blowouts in the windows I will exposure again and blend in in post.

Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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MartynD2oo
OP MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
This image any better?

I blended the window in from a darker exposure, straightened the verticals with the transform tool and cropped.

Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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Joergen Geerds Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: needs some work

MartynD2oo wrote:

I blended the window in from a darker exposure, straightened the verticals with the transform tool and cropped.

my 2 cents for this image:

  • it has no focus, I am not sure what you want to show with this image, other than the complete kitchen

  • it is too wide, the very distorted/stretched cabinets on the left, and the fragment of the fridge on the right distract/hurt the composition

  • the horizontal lines: they are at an angle that is very uncomfortable to look at, and i would probably shoot this straight, or look for a completely different composition/angle

  • decoration: why not move the kitchen utensils and the flowers next to the sink? maybe add some bread or fruit to the basket?

  • i personally think the outside of the window is too dark, it looks unnatural... I would probably cut it back a bit (IMO)

  • the iron bars on the window are very distracting/depressing... if possible, i would remove them, or shoot differently so they become less pronounced... unless the client specifically requested them, and they are an important feature to show (because burglaries in the mountains are rampant?).

Hawaiian Punch Senior Member • Posts: 1,004
good advice but

Agree with most of what you said above with the caveat that online real estate showcase sites (like http://www.open2view.com )"love" shots like this and need to illustrate things like security bars if they are a part of the property. They also don't mind pumped up exterior view layers as showcasing the view is more important to a prospective buyer than a 'natural looking' photograph.

I would agree that his staging of props is very poor and unimaginative and his horizontal perspective work is lopsided.

Joergen Geerds Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: good advice but

Hawaiian Punch wrote:

online real estate showcase sites "love" shots like this and need to illustrate things like security bars if they are a part of the property.

as I said, if it's important, and part of the deal, then by all means include them.

They also don't mind pumped up exterior view layers as showcasing the view is more important to a prospective buyer than a 'natural looking' photograph.

hmm, I guess "their taste" differs from mine, which is good, because choice the clients have sets different photographers apart, and lets them choose whatever photographer they like.

Gene L. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,788
Re: This image any better?

Yes, better. If you shoot at about mid height and use a level, then the verticals will not be so much of a problem, just correct for lens distortion. As for HDR, there are differing views on what is good or bad. So far my clients love the heavily processed look. Other photographers may see it as overcooked, but I cater to the person who's name will be on the invoice.

Here is my view (and worth every cent you paid). To me, photographing architecture is more than getting a technically good photo. It is about showing the architect's vision. Look around to see how the design flows and what statements it makes. For example, a staircase doesn't have to just provide access between floors. It can make an announcement, create flow, form a demarcation, wrap around an area to create a unique space, hide an area, etc. Some homes have a vast open feel while others are more snuggled in. Capture the character of place and you hit the mark.

-Gene L.
http://www.ttl-biz.com/realty

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chris-humphreys-photography
chris-humphreys-photography Regular Member • Posts: 394
Re: Interior design Photography

With high contrast scenes like this I usually adopt one of two methods. The first is to take an exposure for the ambient light in the room and a second for the view (though over exposed by around one stop) then blend with a layer mask in photoshop.

The second method is to shoot bracketed exposures and combine in Photomatix, but use exposure fusion not HDR, it produces much more natural images.

Oh and correct your verticals....

Doesn't look like you are UK based, but I wrote an article for Digital Photographer Magazine which is in the current issue on Interior Shooting Tips. I think you can download the magazine with an online subscription.

Cheers

Chris
--
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http://www.chrishumphreys.net

MartynD2oo
OP MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
How's this?

Shot again using 1 sb800 on camera and 1 sb800 off cam.

Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,715
You can go different ways, but...

All would do to study up on Ashley Morrison, who sometimes writes here and at LuLa. On his site, or his vimeo feed, he has time-lapse videos of several of his shoots, and together they are a master class in setup, lighting, etc. He uses lights, several of them, but makes it look so natural.

Notice the attention to detail used in getting the arrangements just so. It takes all day, and a team of 4-5. He's only making it look easy, but it isn't.

http://www.ashleymorrison.com/

HDR is a way to go, considered a slightly low-budget way to go, but the results can be pretty good. Once you go to lighting, you will need to be at a higher billing.

It is more advisable to (i) use the low strength settings around 30% in Photomatix, (ii) to take more shots so that the shadows are completely covered. You might like to do 8-9 in 2EV steps. The less application of HDR "effects" the better for this work.

Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,715
Re: How's this?

It has a harsh and slightly arresting look due to the way you set up the flashes. It might be good enough for a newspaper insert, but not as good as you'd like it to be.

Probably at the price level you're working at, the HDR (see my other reply to you) method will work if properly applied in low strength form and with plenty of bracketing to cover the entire range.

If you're going to get into strobes, you would not use anything on camera, which casts short harsh shadows. You don't want to take a picture of a room from the perspective of a light bulb. And you need some modifiers, at the least umbrellas, a diffuser, and perhaps a grid. But really you need to set up a bit differently than you are now. Someone like Ashley Morrison might use 7-9 strobes, but you could not find any evidence of them being there. Small flash heads attached to a power pack make that a little easier, and having a wide selection of modifiers and rigging at your finger tips. And a truck, or at least a Subaru.

This is not to say that you can't finesse a shot with a couple of SB800s and a few modifiers. But it takes some practice. If you need to wrap this job, the mild HDR might be your best bet.

Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,715
Re: How's this?

On Ashley Morrison's site, have a look at the Before and After images. They give you an idea of some of the ingenious ways that he uses strobes. Notice how he uses strobes to make window light for example.

MartynD2oo
OP MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Wooah

Amazing stuff! I just love those images. Thats 20 years experience for you rather than 6 hours,lol. I'm gonna buy 4 more sb800's and some umbrellas and learn.

Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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ChrisBurch Regular Member • Posts: 436
Re: How's this?

I would suggest adding a couple of polarized shots to your exposure spread. That way you could mask out or minimize unwanted reflections where desireable and could probably reduce some of the glare in the sky.

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MartynD2oo
OP MartynD2oo Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Re: You can go different ways, but...

Thanks for the tips Luke, really appreciated.
Martyn

http://www.martynwilkes.com

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