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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Architecture, Real-Estate & Buildings
Thread started 08 May 2017 (Monday) 16:39
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Lighting for RE Interiors

 
rgs
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Post has been edited 7 months ago by rgs.
May 08, 2017 16:39 |  #1

I hope this rather long post will be of some use to others.

My goal in RE interiors has always been to make the most use of ambient light and, often, to include several areas in a photograph so the viewer gets a good idea of how the spaces interact with each other. Most of the images I have posted here are automated blends of a 7 shot, 1 stop bracket (usually 4 or 5 of the 7 available frames) processed in either LR/Enfuse or Lightroom HDR. I don't care for the typical HDR look (or the color shifts) so I have taken great pains to process carefully and to find alternative methods.

I've bought and worked with some luminosity masking plugins for PS and found them mostly disappointing, worked on hand-blending (especially for window pulls), bought Photomattix (not using it - too weird and makes me leave LR/PS too often), and tried some other Exposure Fusion plug-ins. They all have their faults.

I've studied and worked with multiple lights on site but it's very hard - at least for me - to get ambient looking light with flash set-ups. And single light set-ups just looked fake. I've read the books and understand what to do but, at least in my area, open plan houses are common and the larger public rooms are difficult to light with small flashes.

So I have moved to Flash-Ambient as the first choice almost all my work. First, you need something larger than a small speedlight(s). I use a RoveLight and it is perfect. I can bounce into very large rooms successfully and , since it is battery operated, there are no cords to move or get in the way. It's cheap (for what it is) and very useful. My first exposure for each set-up is a flash bounced from a wall behind the camera. That is followed by my 7 shot, 1 stop bracket bracket which serves to provide me with a good ambient exposure to blend with the flash and a back-up if an EF blend is necessary.

Back in my office I pick the ambien shot that looks like it will blend best with the flash shot and open that and the flash shot as layers in PS. I put the ambient one on top, put a black mask on it which causes the flash exposure to be the base of the image. I set the mask to "luminosity" rather than "normal" which eliminates color shifts. Then I paint white on the mask as needed to hide the look of flash, fill shadows, add highlights, change the apparent direction of the light, and make it look as much like ambient as possible.

I am taking slightly longer on site and slightly less time in post. I enjoy post so that's not a problem. My clients are very pleased with the results. I'm posting a couple from last week's work. The entrance door has always been a problem. There usually is nothing close to bounce from and there is inevitably sensor bloom around the windows. The Flash- Ambient approach cures most of the problems. The bathroom shot shows how effectively the Flash-Ambient technique handles multiple rooms and angles in one shot.

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Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

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rgs
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May 08, 2017 16:44 |  #2

Two more. The one with the kitchen surrounded by columns was a bit tricky!

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Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

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dmward
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Joined Jun 2009
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Post has been edited 6 months ago by dmward.
May 10, 2017 22:53 |  #3

I like the concept.
I too want ambient light to be the shaping light in an image.
In most cases an architect has thought about and designed the interior lighting to accent the space. I want to include that in the image.

Since I don't do my own processing for real estate images I try to get the flash to provide a hint of highlight without overwhelming the ambient. I've found that easiest using TTL with the flash set to -.3 EV.

For architecture shooting I use a range of bracketed exposures with some careful light painting with a TTL controlled strobe or speedlite depending on the size of the space.

I've also found that the graduated radial tool in Lightroom is useful as a dodge and burn tool.


David | Sharing my Insights, Knowledge & Experience (external link) | dmwfotos website (external link)

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rebelsimon
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May 13, 2017 21:55 |  #4

I currently shoot RE interiors with 1 strobe and 2 speed lights. I'll add a couple of AD200's when my last couple invoices pan out.

Open concepts definitely make it tougher to use flash, but I'm having better luck with practice (only shooting RE for a couple months).

I blend 3 exposures (100, 400, 1600 ISO) and have minimal PP since the WB is dominated by window light and flash.

It takes me twice as long to shoot a property (2 hours for 45ish frames), but minimal time in PP other than letting Enfuse do it's thing.

Always curious to see how others approach this, efficiency is definitely the name of the game in my neck of the woods.


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Toronto area photographer http://www.SimonMellic​kPhotography.com (external link)
Cameras:5Diii (x2), 70D
Lenses:Rokinon 14mm f2.8, Voightlander 20mm f3.5, Canon 24-70 f2.8ii, Tamron 35mm f1.8 VC, Canon 50mm STM, Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC, Canon 135mm f2
Lights: AD600, AD200 (x2), V850 (x4)

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dmward
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May 19, 2017 21:01 |  #5

rebelsimon wrote in post #18354124 (external link)
I currently shoot RE interiors with 1 strobe and 2 speed lights. I'll add a couple of AD200's when my last couple invoices pan out.

Open concepts definitely make it tougher to use flash, but I'm having better luck with practice (only shooting RE for a couple months).

I blend 3 exposures (100, 400, 1600 ISO) and have minimal PP since the WB is dominated by window light and flash.

It takes me twice as long to shoot a property (2 hours for 45ish frames), but minimal time in PP other than letting Enfuse do it's thing.

Always curious to see how others approach this, efficiency is definitely the name of the game in my neck of the woods.


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I think this is the first time I've heard someone say they use ISO for bracketing. I always use shutter speed. Its the only variable that doesn't impact noise, depth of field or potentially focus point.

That said, your images look good, without any noise introduced by the higher ISO. That's reasonable expectation given that the higher ISO image is for the highlights.

I'm not a fan of enfuse. I think the Lightroom HDR blending does as good a job creating extended control with the 32 bit floating point file and extended range on the control sliders.
Faster than going out of Lightroom and back.

If I go into Photoshop its to blend with luminosity masks and other more precise tools than enfuse.


David | Sharing my Insights, Knowledge & Experience (external link) | dmwfotos website (external link)

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rgs
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May 19, 2017 21:23 |  #6

dmward wrote in post #18358846 (external link)
I think this is the first time I've heard someone say they use ISO for bracketing. I always use shutter speed. Its the only variable that doesn't impact noise, depth of field or potentially focus point.

I'm not a fan of enfuse. I think the Lightroom HDR blending does as good a job creating extended control with the 32 bit floating point file and extended range on the control sliders.
Faster than going out of Lightroom and back.

I agree about the ISO bracketing. I thought it odd when I saw the post. It's also fussy because, at least with my 7DII, it can't be automated (I don't think) so it becomes a hands on routine.

As to LR/Enfuse, I have returned to using it because it creates fewer color shifts. But it takes a bit more work after blending than does LR-HDR to get a good image. LR-HDR automates much of the image manipulation that has to be done by hand with Enfuse. But my final Enfuse images are usually cleaner (slightly) than with LR-HDR.

But whichever blending method is preferred, my first option is almost always to blend - by hand in PS - a flashed frame with the best exposed ambient shot from my bracket. My 7 shot 1 stop bracket is only a back-up. I only blend in Enfuse (or LR-HDR) if my flash-ambient option doesn't work. Which happens only once or twice per house. The flash-ambient images are MUCH cleaner and very few color shifts. And, if there are no light sources or windows in the shot, one single ambient shot almost always does the trick.

By the way, many people think LR-HDR has no batch processing mode. It does - sort of. Ctrl+Shift+H bypasses the first dialogue window. If you have LR-HDR set up like you want it, you just keep hitting Ctrl+Shift+H as needed and line them up. I have done as many as 10 that way and, with the work being done by an SSD, I never have to wait.


Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

The Singular Image (external link)Richard Smith Photography (external link)
Richard Smith Real Estate Photography (external link)500PX (external link)
Fine Art America (external link)

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rgs
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May 19, 2017 21:30 |  #7

rebelsimon wrote in post #18354124 (external link)
I currently shoot RE interiors with 1 strobe and 2 speed lights. I'll add a couple of AD200's when my last couple invoices pan out.

Open concepts definitely make it tougher to use flash, but I'm having better luck with practice (only shooting RE for a couple months).

I blend 3 exposures (100, 400, 1600 ISO) and have minimal PP since the WB is dominated by window light and flash.

It takes me twice as long to shoot a property (2 hours for 45ish frames), but minimal time in PP other than letting Enfuse do it's thing.

Always curious to see how others approach this, efficiency is definitely the name of the game in my neck of the woods.


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These look very nice. If you really want efficiency, I suggest you abandon the ISO bracket. Your camera will run an automated SS bracket of several stops in just a few seconds. You can get all the ambient shots you need from that to either blend with your flashed exposure or blend in Enfuse as your needs require. Additionally, I only use one light (usually a RoveLight) and use the ambient to fill shadows, change light direction and add modeling. I shoot a house in about 1.5 hours and often deliver 50 or more images via a virtual tour. FWIW


Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

The Singular Image (external link)Richard Smith Photography (external link)
Richard Smith Real Estate Photography (external link)500PX (external link)
Fine Art America (external link)

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rebelsimon
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May 21, 2017 12:02 |  #8

I started baracketing ISO frames since that's the only way to keep the flash/ambient ratios the same (which in turn keeps the WB consistent). At 400 ISO, I can get 90% of the way there in one frame with no editing. 100 ISO gives me my highlights, and the 1600 ISO brings up my shadows if needed. If I could automate my flash power along with shutter speed for brackets, I'd try that instead.

I can't imagine hand blending in photoshop for real estate. I usually shoot 2-3 properties in a day, so having the editing as automated as possible is key.


Toronto area photographer http://www.SimonMellic​kPhotography.com (external link)
Cameras:5Diii (x2), 70D
Lenses:Rokinon 14mm f2.8, Voightlander 20mm f3.5, Canon 24-70 f2.8ii, Tamron 35mm f1.8 VC, Canon 50mm STM, Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC, Canon 135mm f2
Lights: AD600, AD200 (x2), V850 (x4)

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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post has been edited 6 months ago by Left Handed Brisket.
May 21, 2017 12:53 |  #9

rebelsimon wrote in post #18359763 (external link)
I started baracketing ISO frames since that's the only way to keep the flash/ambient ratios the same (which in turn keeps the WB consistent). At 400 ISO, I can get 90% of the way there in one frame with no editing. 100 ISO gives me my highlights, and the 1600 ISO brings up my shadows if needed. If I could automate my flash power along with shutter speed for brackets, I'd try that instead.

I can't imagine hand blending in photoshop for real estate. I usually shoot 2-3 properties in a day, so having the editing as automated as possible is key.

i like the look you are getting.

I can pretty much tell where light placement is in those shots, but what are you doing to bounce/modify the light?

I see some faint, but hard shadows, it is part bounce, part direct light? I suspect very low output on the flashes?

any tips would be appreciated.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Formerly he's gone before apostrophe-gate | Not in gear database: Canon 70-210 3.5-4.5, Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 2x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

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rebelsimon
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May 21, 2017 13:10 |  #10

No modifiers, just ceiling and wall bounce. I started flagging my flashes this week so that I could place them a little lower. Flash output is pretty high; speedlights are usually at 1/1 unless it's a smaller room.

I set my exposure at 400 ISO, f11, and anywhere from 1/10th - 1/50th ss. Got a couple of AD200's this week, they're a pretty awesome compromise between strobes and speedlights.


Toronto area photographer http://www.SimonMellic​kPhotography.com (external link)
Cameras:5Diii (x2), 70D
Lenses:Rokinon 14mm f2.8, Voightlander 20mm f3.5, Canon 24-70 f2.8ii, Tamron 35mm f1.8 VC, Canon 50mm STM, Tamron 90mm 2.8 VC, Canon 135mm f2
Lights: AD600, AD200 (x2), V850 (x4)

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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post has been edited 6 months ago by Left Handed Brisket.
May 21, 2017 13:52 |  #11

i have seen the thread on the 200s, they look great, godox is killing it lately.

Lately I have just been doing large bracketed sets, but as stated, that can cause serious WB issues. I don't do much RE but never considered bracketing strobed shots.

i'm going to do some testing with your method of lowering the lights and flagging them. Thanks for the tips.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Formerly he's gone before apostrophe-gate | Not in gear database: Canon 70-210 3.5-4.5, Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 2x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

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rgs
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May 21, 2017 18:15 |  #12

rebelsimon wrote in post #18359763 (external link)
I started baracketing ISO frames since that's the only way to keep the flash/ambient ratios the same (which in turn keeps the WB consistent). At 400 ISO, I can get 90% of the way there in one frame with no editing. 100 ISO gives me my highlights, and the 1600 ISO brings up my shadows if needed. If I could automate my flash power along with shutter speed for brackets, I'd try that instead.

I can't imagine hand blending in photoshop for real estate. I usually shoot 2-3 properties in a day, so having the editing as automated as possible is key.

That's an interesting approach and I'm sure blending those images solves any noise problems from the higher ISO. Are you blending the brackets individually or the whole job in batch? How much time do you spend in post per job?

I can hand blend one flash and one ambient exposure VERY quickly - at least as fast as Enfuse in most cases. I spend about 2 hours in post per job so my total on site and in post is usually under 4 hours. My primary reason for moving to a flash-ambient routine is because I get cleaner images than I can from any auto blending routine - even Enfuse which seems to me to be the cleanest. Here are a couple of common shots that I have found very difficult with any auto blending technique that the flash-ambient approach handles easily. The entry door is a problem for blending software because of the inevitable sensor bloom around the window when the interior light is correct and the typical dining room or breakfast room shot where the table is up against a window and back-lit tends to have difficult color shifts toward blue as well as severe contrast problems. These two were shot with flash-ambient and, I think, show how handily the problems are solved.

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Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

The Singular Image (external link)Richard Smith Photography (external link)
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Fine Art America (external link)

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LVDJC
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May 25, 2017 15:20 |  #13

Hello,

I'm fairly new to RE photography and have read many articles and watched a ton of videos on the subject. Been watching a lot of Rich Baum on Youtube and your method seems to resemble his a lot. I have 2 questions for you if you don't mind.

1. Do you ever do another flash shot just for the window exposure to blend in PS using darken blend mode for the outside?

2. You said you were bouncing of the wall in back of you. Would it make sense at all to bring a piece of foam core to bounce the light off of if the walls are a dark color or weird color and do you ever bounce off the ceiling like Rich Baum seems to swear by? (OK, actually 3 questions :-D)

Thanks, Dave




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rgs
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May 25, 2017 17:04 |  #14

LVDJC wrote in post #18362932 (external link)
Hello,

I'm fairly new to RE photography and have read many articles and watched a ton of videos on the subject. Been watching a lot of Rich Baum on Youtube and your method seems to resemble his a lot. I have 2 questions for you if you don't mind.

1. Do you ever do another flash shot just for the window exposure to blend in PS using darken blend mode for the outside?

2. You said you were bouncing of the wall in back of you. Would it make sense at all to bring a piece of foam core to bounce the light off of if the walls are a dark color or weird color and do you ever bounce off the ceiling like Rich Baum seems to swear by? (OK, actually 3 questions :-D)

Thanks, Dave

I have made ambient exposures of windows to kill reflections from the flash. I have not (yet) done a special flash exposure for a window.

The foam core is not a bad idea. I'd leave it in the car just in case. Otherwise it would just get in the way. light or pastel colors (the most common kind) just take and adjustment in post. It would have to be a pretty intense color to be unmanageable in post. The bigger problem is dark walls - the absorb LOTS of light.

Actually I'm usually aiming the flash at a junction between the wall and ceiling. Or in a corner.


Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

The Singular Image (external link)Richard Smith Photography (external link)
Richard Smith Real Estate Photography (external link)500PX (external link)
Fine Art America (external link)

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LVDJC
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May 25, 2017 18:37 as a reply to rgs's post |  #15

Thank you for the quick response and advice. Dave




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