July 6th, 2015
I got a question from John, a professional photographer wedding and portraiture photographer that asked:
I upgraded my camera from a D-90 to a D7100 and I still get this reddish brown color cast in a lot of interiors. I have tried adjusting color balance to the flash mode or sunlight mode instead of A (auto mode) with llittle success…. I have tried raising the color temperature manually and that sometimes helped in certain rooms, but not too often. It seems the auto mode works the best then I adjust the color balance in photoshop as needed but this a lot of extra time… Do you know of anything I can do to get more accurate exposures on interiors?
After looking at a couple of John’s example interior photos and asking more questions it was clear that he was struggling with the three classic problems that are unique to real estate and interior photography. He was aware of the color balance problem but he wasn’t even aware of #2 and #3 below. Here are the three classic issues that interior photographers have to deal with that aren’t as pronounced in other types of photography:
- Color balance: Interiors photographers have to deal with color balance issues more than other photographic situations because of many temperatures of light sources in rooms. Different light bulbs can have different color temperatures. The reddish brown can be old incandescent. John was shooting JPG so when the color balance came out of the camera off he had a hard time changing it. The best way to deal with color problems is to shoot RAW. Shooting RAW makes your life much easier in post-processing. Lightroom is designed to deal with RAW files quickly and easily! You can make color adjustments to a RAW file that you just cannot do to a JPG!
- Using flash in interiors: John was shooting with his flash on his camera resulting in a very flat looking lighting. It is much better to keep your flash off your camera when shooting interiors, the results have flat looking light when the the flash is on the same axis as the lens. Put it on a light stand, that doesn’t slow you down that much.
- Verticals and barrel distortion: John wasn’t correcting verticals or removing barrel distortion. When shooting weddings and portraits neither make much difference but in interiors they become a big deal. Learning to use Lightroom is the fastest and easiest way to correct verticals and remove barrel distortion.
So if you are getting started real real estate photography pay careful attention to these areas. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with John’s D7100 that shooting RAW and adjusting color balance won’t fix. I’m sure there are others out there that will have other opinions.