A quieter week this week on the photo front. The 52 Week Challenge was Interior design which unfortunately came a week too early to get the Chapman household Christmas decorations featured. Instead, my shot of the week was taken at the Norfolk Towers Hotel in London. Mrs C and I had a day trip to Brussels on Thursday and as the train was an early one we decided to travel up to London the night before.
Interior and lifestyle photography can be tricky to perfect. The common issues with interiors shots are;
- White balance – unless the room is well lit you have to rely on some sort of artificial light. If the lamps in the room are bright enough, then just lighting with these is OK and you can set a tungsten white balance. If you have to mix light sources – flash plus daylight or flash plus tungsten – you start to get into clashing colour temperatures. The easiest way out of this is to gel the flash to match, so add a CTO (orange) gel if you’re shooting flash + tungsten, or depending on the nature of your natural light a CTB (blue) gel to match flash + natural light. Alternatively, shoot in b/w as I did here.
- In most cases you need a wide angle to get everything in. Of course this isn’t always true, but for the sorts of rooms we have in the UK it certainly is. At wide focal lengths you start to get distortion and straight lines no longer being straight. In many cases you can correct this in post-production.
- Depending on your aims, you might need a large depth of field to get everything in focus in the room. This is easier to achieve with wide angle lenses, even at small f/ numbers – my post on aperture discusses the impact of focal length and aperture on depth of field. Of course the converse is also true that if you’re trying to achieve shallow DoF then this becomes more tricky when shooting wide angle.
- With a lot in the frame there’s a lot to look out for. It’s hard to get the perfect shot where everything is right. I often spot a drinks coaster that’s not straight or a stray power cable that I tried to hide or a mark on the wall that I’d not noticed before – especially when using flash to light the room more than it is normally. As with food photography it’s the attention to detail that is critical in getting a great interior shot.
- Finally, don’t forget that you’re not always trying to ‘sell’ the location. Sometimes an interior shot is more reportage, as was the case with the shot below. This was taken at my late grandparents’ house after they passed away. This was my final look round a house they’d lived in for more than 30 years before it was sold. Rather than take my DSLR and get crisp images I used my Russian Day Lomo film camera with 800 iso film – hence the grainy texture. This is actually a scan of a print I had made.
I found a couple of tutorial sites that offer some further reading and advice;
Finally, now’s the time to start thinking about your photography plans for 2016. One great way is to join Flickr (if you’re not already) and sign up to some groups – the conversations, encouragement and camaraderie really make Flickr the best site for on-line photo sharing.
There are several 365 groups if you’re brave enough to try a photo a day, but if a couple per week sounds more like it then you can sign up now for 116 Pictures in 2016. The group that I moderate is now open for entrants 52 Weeks the 2016 Edition.
In fact I’ve got a series of three posts planned on why I love Flickr coming up in a week or so – look out for