Shooting interior photography could be a big challenge. It is always essential what is the purpose of the final image. It could be commercial interior photography, advertisement real estate photography, or just leisure shooting for social media. One of the critical factors is preparation.
Clean the space
When shooting interiors, you do not see at first sight the things that are disturbing impact. So try to always clean up the area before shooting.
Let you leave only things empowering the space like books, pillows, towels, green plants, or simple and neutral flowers. Always think about the final composition and color compatibility.
So use decorative props that have compatible colors with the whole space to be photographed. Get rid of any personal things, bottles from the bathroom or kitchen. Do not forget to take any junk or kitchen cleaning props.
Take care to clean and polish all critical surfaces. Any dirt or imperfection will be visible on the final photography. So to avoid many postprocessing issues, clean it before shooting.
Use natural light in interior photography
It is challenging to use artificial lighting for taking believable and natural-looking interior photographs. That’s why you should plan te shooing interior and choose the exact daytime.
Natural light is mainly coming through the windows. Overcast exterior light is always good for good interior photography results. The majority of cameras have a dynamic range problem.
It means the camera sensor has a problem to capture all level of lights correctly. For example, if you ha a window in your frame, it will be blown out and thoroughly washed out and white.
The rest of the image will be well exposed. Of course, it depends a lot on the focusing point nad measurement system settings.
If you use a point measurement system and focusing on the most bright object like a window, the rest of your image will be underexposed and dark.
Here you can solve the problem using:
- Higher ISO setting
- High-quality lens
Switch on all lights
Photographers are refusing to use any lights in the photographed interior. It is because of a color cast these lights are bringing to the shot.
On the other hand, others are preferring to use all available light. I think it is always good to show all the lights in interior photography. It is simply something that belongs to the interior and has a specific function. So why not show it also on the final image?
Okay, the color cast could be a problem, but it shouldn’t be a big problem to solve it in postprocessing. You can shoot two separate images with and without turned lights.
Then in photoshop, use the natural light shot as a base and mask-in only the lighting bulbs from the other image using layer masks.
Camera and Lenses for interior photography
To get the best results try to use the best possible equipment rather than trying to fix the potential problems in the postprocessing phase.
So your camera should have a decent sensor with low noise and high ISO values. You can then increase the ISO level and get good results also in the dark parts of the room.
From the lens point of view, use prime lenses. Prime lenses have less distortion and provide perfect sharpness. Prime lenses also have better parameters for low light conditions.
Wide-angle lenses allow you to get more space into the frame. Yes, on the other hand, you will have to cope with higher distortion. But it can be fixed in the postprocessing.
You should shoot more variations of viewing angle. The best results you will get by shooting from the hip level.
Bracketing is a method on how to solve the dynamic range problem of your camera. I other words, you shoot more images of the same scene with different settings.
In most cases, it is enough to shoot three shots. It is a standard-setting, underexposed image, and overexposed image.
You can set automatic bracketing on most cameras. We are here speaking about exposure bracketing. So to set automatic bracketing for three shots, you just select the number of shots (3) and the interval of exposure setting.
It means how strong will be the overexposure of the overexposed bracketing shot compared to the normal one. And of course the same in the opposite direction: how strong will be the underexposed image.
After you set the bracketing, you just keep the shutter button pressed until three shots are exposed automatically.
Of course, you cant also shot in manual bracketing mode. Here is the same principle, but you set every single shot manually.
Shooting is just the first part of the process because now you have to merge these three images to get the best from each shot.
Here you can use an automatic HDR function of Photoshop or Lightroom or make it manually. In a manual approach, you load all three shots as separate layers and manually mask in or mask out what you need.
Postprocessing is a must, especially in commercial interior photography. Main issues you have to solve in postprocessing are
Wide-angle lens distortion
If you use a wide-angle lens, for example, 14mm, you can get more space of photographed room into the frame. The negative side of it you’ll get a substantial distortion here. Lines are curved, and you have to fix it in Photoshop. In many cases, is the distortion so strong you should instead use more shots and combine it in the postprocessing.
Combination of more panoramic shots
As we already mentioned in the previous paragraph, in some cases, you need to connect more shots. Using a tripod and shooting in portrait mode, you can shoot more shots while moving the camera on the tripod from one end of the interior room to another. Then you can merge these shots into one in postprocessing.
Combination of bracketed shots
Bracketed shots were made for getting all levels of the light as the camera is not able to catch the whole light spectrum in one single shot. So now, we load all bracketed shots into separate Photoshop layers and mask in all parts of each bracketed shots that are needed.
Overal image retouching
Finally, after merging all bracketed shots or panoramic parts of the photographed interior, you always need to make final retouching.
As you see, shooting interior photography is not a trivial task. If you want to achieve professional results, you have to invest more time and preparation for the whole process. And also, the second phase, which is postprocessing, is mandatory in almost all situations.