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How to light interior spaces – Part 1
December 27, 2016
cargill-team-working-together
Marketing tip/advice for starting photographers
April 19, 2017

How to light interior spaces – breakdown of an interior shot – Part 2

interiors shot - After
Hey Guys,
Sorry for being late on the second part, but I have been busy with ton of shooting and retouching;
This time we're going to dive into a more complicated situation of lighting at a difficult time of the day; I know some would suggest waiting where the ambient lighting is less contrasty by shooting later at the day or at early morning, which totally makes sense, but you might not have the luxury of choice each time in terms of timing, so, you will have to be ready to deal with whatever comes up.
The shot I am going to explain was an example of bad lighting conditions "i.e. 12 pm, a lot of light blocking objects in the way which means more potential shadows ...and the list goes on".
When you come to a situation like this, make the ambient light work for you, not against you ... but how??
Usually the first thing a flash or strobe user might think of is: "Ok, let's expose for the window view, fill the interior with flashes and get it over with .. right?" .. Ok, that may or may not work depending on how powerful window light is, but even if it works, you will have to fill aggressively against windows, which will make your fill light looks awfully flashy and unnatural, or it might not even work at all if the window exposure exceeds your camera's sync speed ... so what to do here??
Before going further, let me show you a before and after of our shot:
 
Difference is huge right? 
Ok first that was a workstation design for one of the biggest office furniture manufacturers in Egypt: "MOHM";
As you can see, dynamic range is terrifying, the lighting difference between the indoors and the window is something like 6 or 7 stops, so, how to make it work in such situation?
First things first; before shooting anything, put the furniture into place, make sure everything is aligned, cleaned, nothing is blocking your eyes view to the back of the scene, few pens and paper work would help too, but we didn't have any with us unfortunately.
Second; craft your composition till you feel everything looks perfect "p.s. shooting tethered to a laptop or a tablet is a great help to refining your frame nicely.
Now onto lighting; I thought if I can't kill my enemy, then befriend them; let your shutter speed goes slow, but not too slow, we don't wanna light bomb the whole scene, we just wanted the ambient to mix up with our fill flash to make the light more natural, more believable... also asking the ambient light to do the heavy lifting here will take off a considerable load off our flashes; for this particular shot, the settings for our base layer were f8 - iso 320 and 1/30 shutter speed; the base was composed of ambient light plus fill flashes came from behind the camera to left and right utilizing 2 shoot through umbrellas; this process was repeated 3 times with one stop overexposed ambient and one stop underexposed ambient to make sure my all basis are covered, also don't forget to have a series of bracketed exposures with all flashes turned off at the end of the shoot "p.s. you will need them in post".
After getting my base exposure, I had my assistant to light paint for me using a big Softbox where fill lights failed to reach and emphasize, usually I light paint chairs "p.s. make sure to use a Softbox to light LEATHER chairs not a gridded strobe for the glare leather will show" this shot will show where my light painting pops were aimed
 
 
As numbers state "P.S. Numbers were painted back from old exposures to emphasize how light looked before painting";
1-Window view
2-A flash on a stand was lighting this dark room behind the chair to the left, some color correction was done to neutralize this room's color.
3-A big softbox was used to light this whole area.
4-My assistant was standing above the tabletop aiming down a big softbox to the chair to light it; this process was repeated with the following chairs to the right, but didn't paint them here just for the purpose of demonstration.
5-Another softbox pop to the side of the same chair to light this part of it; also this process was repeated with the other chairs to its right.
6-Another softbox was aimed at the back of the opposite chair lighting its back; process with repeated again with the 2 other chairs to the right.
7-Also there was a few pops at a faster shutter speeds to properly light the wooden tabletop surface of the station, and eliminate this ugly reflection of the windows at the back.
After done with light painting, some color corrections were in order as well as some serious cleaning for walls, ceiling, and floor, and Voila comes the final image.
 
Hope you found that useful; till the next time..... Cheers.
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