View Full Version : Interior lighting

Jim Fitzgerald
08-06-2006, 10:59 PM
I have to shoot an interior bathroom and kitchen for the company that I work for. I will be concentrating on the tile and stone in these areas. My questions are:
I will be shooting my 4x5 and these will be used in a brochure of some kind. Any suggestions on film? Hot lights or flash? I have both. I'm normally a landscape photographer and work in natural light. Any tips would also be appreciated. Thanks.


08-06-2006, 11:17 PM
I have done very few of these but my preference is to shoot it with natural light and then analyse the picture and see where you need to add. From that point you will need daylight/strobe or gels over the hot lights.

I dislike the overlit look of Architectural Digest as a rule.


Jim Fitzgerald
08-06-2006, 11:34 PM
Michael, I guess I could shoot a couple of polaroids to check the lighting. Thanks for the input.

Stay Focused....or Soft Focused!


Roger Hicks
08-07-2006, 03:05 AM
Michael, I guess I could shoot a couple of polaroids to check the lighting. Thanks for the input.Jim

I wouldn't even attempt this without half a box of Polaroid per shot. I've done a modest amount of this sort of thing myself and also did a book on interiors in the Rotovision Pro Lighting Series (with my wife Frances Schultz). I don't know if it's still available but I don't really care as it was flat fee anyway.

The most useful tip I picked up from the 15-20 photographers who contributed pictures to the book was using those little, low-powered flash heads that screw into a light socket. Half a dozen will not break the bank, and they can be used with the diffuser on or off and the reflector in place or reversed to add light in dark corners where you need it.

Big reflectors are useful too: 8x4 sheets of expanded polystyrene (such as Dow Styrofoam) are ideal, though they do drop 'crumbs' when they're new.

Balancing indoor to outdoor is fun (if there's a window in shot) and is much easier with flash: the interior exposure is controlled solely by aperture, the exterior exposure by aperture-plus-shutter-speed.

Shiny surfaces are of course a bastard and polarizers can be a help but you then need EVEN MORE light.


Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

08-07-2006, 03:36 AM
Hello Jim Fitzgerald,

Seems that a more current trend with some high end interiors shooters is to only use available light. One way to help that situation is what Roger suggested using foam sheets. However, to avoid the crumbs you could substitute art board instead. To get even more light, you need a shiny material, but with a surface that scatters the light a bit; what I do is get a large roll of aluminum foil, wrinkle it slightly, and wrap it around the art board.

The suggestion about Polaroid tests is one thing that will help you a great deal. Even if you are shooting in colour for your final film shots, you can proof and check with a B/W Polaroid film (or Fuji instant B/W film). The room and space will not need to be bright, just relatively even lighting.

A simple flash/strobe technique I sometimes use involves a wired Nikon Speedlight, and another one or two slaved Speedlights positioned to knockdown any harsh shadows or too dark spots. Keeping them on very low power settings, checked with my Sekonic, then a Polaroid shot or three. Position those in relationship to the art boards, either using the foil covered side, a grey board, or the white side as needed. Collapsible reflectors are another choice, especially those nice large five in one oblong ones.

Usually I would recommend using a film in which you have prior experience. It can be tough to go cold to a shoot with a film you have not previously used. However, if you want to try something different maybe a Tungsten film would be an interesting choice. If you have any flourescant lighting, or strange heating type of bathroom lamps, you might just want to leave them off, if possible.

Without knowing and seeing the various surface colours, it is tough for me to recommend anything more specific. It is good to be prepared for many different interiors, so the more versatile your gear the smoother it should go. Don't get in a hurry, be sure you and the gear don't throw a shadow nor a reflection into the final images. Best of luck.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio

Jim Fitzgerald
08-07-2006, 08:20 AM
Thanks, everyone for the suggestions.I will let you know how the shoot goes. It is this Thursday.

Stay Focused....or Soft Focused!