July 26th, 2015
Francesca asked a great question about the 5 winners in the July PFRE photo contest:
I enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures of the 5 winners and noticed that none of the photos was taken using artificial light. I always heard that you need to turn all the lights on before taking a photo. As a beginner now I wonder: how does a photographer decide when to use natural light versus artificial light to shoot an interior?
My immediate reaction to Francesca’s question was, “Yes, they all look like they are only natural light, and they all appear to have the room lights off, probably to control the White Balance, but my guess is that there is some flash being used on several of them.” So I checked with the winners and Tony was the first to respond to my question so I’ll use his photo to answer Francesca’s question.
- On leaving the room lights off: My default is to leave them off, so as to avoid the associated colour casts. That said, sometimes a client might choose to leave the lights on because it’s a design choice that was made to augment the look-and-feel of the room. If so, then I’ll usually take a set of shots with the lights on, and then my usual bracketed shots with the lights off. I’ll then hand blend some of the light into the fixtures within the lights-off shot.
- On using flash: I always use flash! My preferred approach is to manually blend? ambient and flash exposures. For me, the first consideration when using flash is to try to find a placement(s) that will allow the flash to mimic/augment the direction of the natural light entering the room. That’s what I did in my contest entry this month, where I stood in the shower stall off of far camera right, so as to leverage the natural light coming in from that far window. I hand-held my flash and used various flash placements and power levels. If I recall, I also used a flash on a fully extended monopod from behind the camera, reaching into the room as far as I could get it, with the flash set at very low power, and bounced into the ceiling. The goal was to retain the look/feel of ambient light while getting enough light into the space to better show off the cabinetry for the millworker, who was my client? in that instance.
Tony has done a great job of making this shot look totally natural, but I think it’s that low powered flash that gives the cabinets in this bathroom that crispy, sharp sparkling look! Great job Tony and thanks for your explanation of your lighting for this shot! Great job!