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Shooting interior architecture photography involves adjusting the lighting and position of objects in the room to create the perfect mood and tell a story.
Each space has a mood and personality of its own, and you want to capture the essence of each space with each shot.
Because architectural photography has its own set of unique constraints, you must use your tools strategically to capture vibrant and dynamic images of spaces.
Think about the shots you want to take in the space and set up the surrounding area to enhance the composition of the shot. Decide on the angles and see how all the elements fit together by adding and removing props and accents as necessary.
The naked eye is immune to clutter, but photographs will capture every aspect of the room and magnify its flaws. Take a moment to move and rearrange items for a better photo.
Every item must be positioned to be pleasing to an eye. Pay attention to details by fluffing up pillows, smoothing out creases on beds and clearing out everyday kitchen appliances such as coffee makers and toasters.
If you are not able to remove items and rearrange them, take a moment to rearrange items so that they are aligned and perfectly positioned for lighting. Straighten crooked tables, misaligned furniture and uneven throws. Also store away remote controls, mail and papers on tables.
Aside from clearing the area, be sure that all surfaces are clean. Flat surfaces such as counter tops, tables, and desks should be cleared off and wiped down.
If you are shooting architectural photography near a high traffic area, wait for people, cars, and other objects to get out of the way. A clear photo will ensure the focal point stays on the subject.
Once the space is free of clutter, add decorations and personal touches to add elements such as textures and pops of colour. Less is more, so use decorations sparingly. Also, make sure that the colours of the room and decorations do not clash with each other.
Timing is everything, so when you are shooting early in the morning or just as the sun is about to set, make the best use of your time to capture the moment. Pay careful attention to natural light. The light can strike the table at the perfect time, creating a warm glow around the curtains in the dining room. Even when working with artificial light, take full advantage of natural light.
A tripod is an essential element for blur-free images because it reduces the likelihood of motion blur or crooked angles from holding the camera in your hand. Instead, use a tripod to perfectly set up your shot.
The level of your camera should be straight without being tilted in any direction. Even a slight tilt will require correction during the editing process, so make sure that your camera is not tilted up, down, or to either side.
Most cameras have a built-in level you can locate through the viewfinder. To find the built-in level, just look for the lines across the focusing screen that move and tilt as the camera tilts. For precise levelling, a hot shoe bubble level can provide accurate focus beyond the lines in the viewfinder.
For wider shots, make use of panorama by setting up your camera vertically on the tripod. Be sure to rotate the camera evenly and overlap the scene in each shot.
Then, making sure you adequately overlap the scene in each shot, do your best to make the camera rotate on a perfectly level, horizontal plane, with the pivot point being roughly where the lens meets the camera.
The pivot point should be right where the lens connects to the camera. Take note of the pivot point in a test shot to avoid convex distortion that results from the pivot point being too close or too far.
Photos with more than two walls can create an awkward and distorted image unless you are careful with adjusting the level and remain mindful of the lines from other items in the room.
If you must take a photo with three walls, then check the alignment of all items in the viewfinder before releasing the shutter. As long as the items are aligned and the camera is positioned at the proper level, breaking the ‘Rule of Thirds’ is permissible.
For professional quality photos, keep vertical lines properly aligned while shooting. Avoid pointing down or up to ensure proper alignment.
Check your lines through the view finder before releasing the shutter. For an even level, shoot about 5′ from the floor.
Limit extreme shots to avoid photo distortion. The space will not be clearly represented due to severe angling. While having extreme shots can add interest and drama, they tend to distort the image and create distractions from the actual space.
To capture the story of the interior and the impact of its colours and textures, experiment with a variety of scales. Wide shots can create a dramatic impact, while vignettes of small areas or decorative pieces can create a feeling of warmth and familiarity.
Opt for a 16-35mm lens on full frame cameras or a 10-24mm lens on cropped sensor cameras. Alternate wide shots and detail shots within your set to capture the intricate details within the space.
Plan your shoot with the right lighting in mind. To make the most of natural light sources, schedule your shoots at either early in the morning or in the late afternoon before sunset.
Make use of all artificial and natural light. Open the shades and turn on all light fixtures to create an inviting warm atmosphere.
Aside from natural and artificial light, a simple off-camera flash will make it easy to add necessary light.
While natural lighting is ideal, you may need artificial light to improve the quality of the shot. The right lighting will convey the desired emotion and atmosphere to add life to the shot, bring out the colours, and improve contrast. Lighting will improve the impact and mood of the portrait, even for interiors and architecture.
Do not limit yourself to HDR, because you could limit the technical lighting options, especially in images with high-contrast. Once you learn how to manage natural light and add your own lighting, the image will be more balanced.
Using a flash indoors will help smooth out shadows around the room and balance the exposure of the portrait.
Simply place the flash on a stand or tripod and position it a few feet away from the camera. The flashes should point up and slightly away from the room to bounce light off the dimensions of the room and illuminate the space with soft and evenly distributed light.
When working with a flash, select a flash unit that allows you to adjust the flash strength. Start by setting the flashes at half power and do a test shot first.
Different light sources cast various levels of light temperatures, so counter the fluctuations in light temperatures by using auto white balance. If you use auto white balance, you can make easily make adjustments when editing to either warm up or cool down the areas that need to be adjusted.
Using the above tips to prep, shoot, and organise your photos is sure to show off interiors in the best possible light and tell a complete story. One the plus points architectural photography is the stability of the subject, which allows you to focus on other elements of the shot, such as the exposure and angles. Once you have adjusted the room and its surroundings to your specifications, you will have your perfect shot.