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GarethC

M8 Architectural Interiors Advice

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Interior photography 101.

 

Good interior images have been produced with a wide variety of equipment under every conceivable type of lighting condition and technique. The general principle is if the room has nice lighting, you need less supplementary lighting. Sometimes you'll have to wait until dusk or night time for the inside and outside to balance nicely. Or combine multiple exposures, although this doesn't always create exactly the same result. (Daylight from windows will still add to the overall brightness value even if you combine a darker view of the window itself.) If you wish to create a look or mood that doesn't exist on site, then you need to light it.

 

Leveling a camera is pretty basic, but there are a variety of adjustments that can be made to a digital file that can also help - if you can't totally control your angle of view or perspective control on-site.

 

If you wish to be able to create a variety of effects, you will need the appropriate equipment. If you and your client will be satisfied with a more limited approach, then you have to plan what will be a suitable result and bring the necessary equipment. Some of my shots are simple to produce and some are very complex. This may depend on the room itself and the amount of time I have allocated for the assignment. Some clients want a few really excellent pictures and some want a lot of coverage. Thus there are often trade-offs.

 

So look through a lot of pictures of rooms and try to decide if you can tell which had supplementary lighting and which didn't. Also study angles, furniture arrangements, and propping. As was previously suggested by Sean, you should go to some homes in your area and practice. Once you have a technique down for a few different types of spaces, you will be way ahead. The importance of this can't be over-emphasized.

 

Illustrating model homes requires communicating space and flow of the the room. While showing details may be a part of it, builders want to show that the space is large and open. This can be different from what one might do for an interior designer or an architect.

 

On site. Go all the way back into every corner of every room and look at the space carefully with an eye that is open to imagination. Try to picture a strong composition and how you will show maximum volume in an attractive minimally distorted way. Consider relocating furniture and adding or removing items. If possible, composition and brightness values should lead the eye into the room. Thus you typically don't want a bright foreground and dark background. If you have time to scout in advance, try to see if there are any things you can add to the space that will make the shots better - flowers, plants, food arrangements, artwork, or other props.

 

If you go to my website, there is a section titled "Model Homes" that will give you an idea of some of the images I have produced. This can be a starting point in your research. Once you get good at it, please stay in Canada.

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Gareth,

 

This was made with the 24 TS-E, for example. Of course you could do your project with the M8 but you should experiment to see how well you like working without having a T/S (I was a view camera guy so I'm used to having lens movements - especially rise and fall because they free my vantage point from being locked to my framing).

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Bill, how do you use a sprit level to make sure your shots are square? The BIGGEST problem I have in photography is squaring everything up. My photos almost always lean to the right. ) I have a grid on my DSLR's viewfinder. That helps some.

 

We have a grid in the M8's viewfinder. Some are under the delusion those are framelines.

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That is true, I've never see a ghost with a camera...

But at least your subject will not move around and leave you time to choose your focal length and set up your tripod, so a zoom seems not to be the first priority.

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If you are shooting for web then I'd say that its unlikely that you'll have any distortion problems which can't be solved in PS. I'd echo the suggestions of tripod and spirit level although some convergence can be corrected depending on application. I personally use 1DS/5D and a variety of wide's (including R glass) for interiors - I shoot a lot of detail with my 24/1.4L wide open for small web inset images - to ensure good delineation of detail subject matter. However FWIW here's an interior shot on a loaned WATE at 16mm.

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We have a grid in the M8's viewfinder. Some are under the delusion those are framelines.

You are right! There is a grid . . . of sorts . . . in the viewfinder. Actually I find a rangefinder camera easier to get "on the level" than a DSLR . . . but I still have trouble with both.

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I'm not particularly turned on by architectural photography and while I'm sure it has ohter uses I hope not to ever need it again

 

Hmmm...if your client heard that they wouldn't be very impressed...This sounds like a great project and it is someone's capital venture you're shooting for plus it's your work up there online.

 

You can do it on an m8 without pc lenses but your 12 won't be your prime, maybe for emphasising some double-height or grand spaces or getting into tight ones it will be useful. Check your focus. You will find the 28 and 35 useful but often not wide enough. Think about borrowing an 18 or 21, an extra strobe and some slaves.

 

Be selective with the number of shots and main angles you want to shoot for each dwelling, your client is not likely to want more than 6-8 shots for each or even in total but they have to be extraordinary shots, but ask them. Take your time, walk the site and carefully plan where to be at the right time for the best natural light. Shoot in the very early morning and late afternoon for the best and most workable light. ND grads are useful where the difference between indoors and out can be 3-4 f stops.

 

Cheers!

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Interior photography 101.

 

Good interior images have been produced with a wide variety of equipment under every conceivable type of lighting condition and technique..........

 

Fascinating reading. Thanks Alan! This Forum shines ..again

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I have a couple of additional points to make.

 

Tropical resort settings often incorporate an inside to outside view. Perhaps the property looks out onto the ocean or other nice scenery. Generally one has to light the interior with flash for this to work, but if you are good at retouching, you can combine two exposures.

 

I emphasized shooting wide spaces which is typically what builders want. Since you said that the images may not have to be totally representation of the property, you may have some leeway of interpretation. But you did ask for advice about architectural interior photography, so I gave some ideas of the general approach that applies to representing this kind of space. Advertisements for resort properties can often be moody and show vignettes. So conceptualize - maybe a view of a tropical drink next to a window looking out to the ocean is the ticket. The idea is to sell the feel of living there. It depends on what the client wants. You should have a clear understanding about this in advance.

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Great advice guys, thanks in particular to Alan and Sean.

 

It was interesting seeing some of your more conceptualized photos Alan, I will probably not highlight the detail in the finishes but was thinking of a few inside to outside views with a foreground object and without a foreground object.

 

I'll be limited in some fo the shots as the house is finished apparently but the carpentry for all the cupboards etc may not be. I can shoot that in a few weeks when i'm down again.

 

I'm probably going to take the 5D with 24 TS as well as the M8, it seems the TS is invaluable.

 

I think I'm seeing where my challenges lie, I am used to landscape photography so I like sweeping vistas and stuff gets in the way of the vista inside, unless you're Alan Goldstein it seems

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Hmmm...if your client heard that they wouldn't be very impressed...This sounds like a great project and it is someone's capital venture you're shooting for plus it's your work up there online.

 

 

The client knows it. I am the client.

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hav never taken any interior shots but am planning to do so soon and hav been running thru thought process of how. Am surprised no one here has mentioned possibility of stitching together multiple shots, which i would see as especially useful if yr going to blow them up to large scale...possibly for exhibition purposes (?)

 

Ali

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If you want to do the job properly I suggest you start worrying more about strobes (and how you are going to light the interiors) than about camera bodies and lenses.

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Since you are the client, I would use the M8 with a borrowed WATE. Since this will be for web use, you can crop the wide image as if you had a tilt-shift in use, if you know what I mean. The effective 21mm image cropped down to a 24mm shifted image may not give you much more shift than 10 degrees, but that usually can enough. The only problem other than the lighting as discussed, is that you will then want to buy a WATE. My Canon tilt-shift has not been utilized since I got the WATE, and it used to be my favorite lens (although soft in corners vs Leica glass) Hopefully you will sell enough so you can afford the WATE. The bubble level in the WATE finder is extremely helpful in sparing you the need for photoshop to correct parallax. I repeat, you will then want to buy the WATE, and that of course is a problem of cost.

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Great advice guys, thanks in particular to Alan and Sean.

 

It was interesting seeing some of your more conceptualized photos Alan, I will probably not highlight the detail in the finishes but was thinking of a few inside to outside views with a foreground object and without a foreground object.

 

I'll be limited in some fo the shots as the house is finished apparently but the carpentry for all the cupboards etc may not be. I can shoot that in a few weeks when i'm down again.

 

I'm probably going to take the 5D with 24 TS as well as the M8, it seems the TS is invaluable.

 

I think I'm seeing where my challenges lie, I am used to landscape photography so I like sweeping vistas and stuff gets in the way of the vista inside, unless you're Alan Goldstein it seems

 

One of the things I like about working with a TS lens is that I can actually see the pictures I'm making as I make them. The other approach (shooting wide, changing "perspective" in post and then cropping) requires one to make a certain kind of picture in the field (camera tilted down for example) and then making another picture from that in PS. I like to see picture 1 and let it inform my decisions about picture 2, etc.

 

Obviously not everyone feels this way but T/S lenses are one main reason that I use SLRs at all. Otherwise I prefer to use RF cameras.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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... Am surprised no one here has mentioned possibility of stitching together multiple shots, which i would see as especially useful if yr going to blow them up to large scale...possibly for exhibition purposes (?)

 

Ali

 

Stitching is a very useful technique but can be quite difficult with interiors. So I didn't suggest it for someone who is not an experienced architectural photographer. It requires precision and practice. I have been doing a lot of it this past year.

 

This past Friday, Saturday, and yesterday were spent shooting interiors in sections and stitching them. (I haven't finished putting them all together yet.) An ad agency and I are trying to develop a special very wide angle look for a particular client. All I can say is some of the shots are getting interesting but are really pushing the limits of reality. (I am not sure how they'll be received.) They are tricky to light and shoot. The wide view encompasses almost the entire space and makes it hard to hide the lights. It is very time consuming. But I'm learning something new.

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I know I'm late to the discussion but returning to lenses, when lightness or load is a factor I always dispense with my 28 and 35 and only take my 24/2.8. The resolution and sharpness of that lens is soo good that I can easily crop and still retain detail.

 

Unlike Sean, I can't justify a DSLR with T/S lens but I have found that over time I've developed a sense of framing with the plan to correct verticals in CS3. I always leave plenty of room at the top and bottom of my pictures to compensate for the 'squashing' effect when adjusting scale. That's again where the 24 is very useful.

 

Good luck and I hope you will post the results.

 

Mmmmm, I do so like that WATE shot.... darn, wish I could afford one of those!

 

LouisB

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