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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 25 Aug 2009 (Tuesday) 17:24
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Lighting a car interior so it looks natural

 
kempobmx1
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Aug 25, 2009 17:24 |  #1

I'm the inventory photographer for a Nissan dealership and I have a lot of trouble getting good lighting on the interior of the cars I shoot. http://www.marlboronis​san.com/New-Inventory.html (external link) Take a look at any car here that doesn't just have Nissan Stock Photos and you can see the issues I'm having. I have to take shots of the seats from outside the car, for starters. These shots always come out very dark, forcing me to use "Shadows" a lot in post, which throws off contrast and colors. Also when shooting the steering wheel, center console, and glove box areas, Things are often either very dark or reflecting harshly, and it looks very tacky and unproffesional.

Moving strobes around outside the car is not an option because I have to get through a dozen cars in a day of shooting, so I don't have time to be moving things around. I currently use a 580EX II (with a Fong dome) on my 40D. I have a 430EX (with Fong dome) that I can slave to the 580 but the problem is there is nowhwere in the cars that I can possition the 430, so it is triggered, without it being visible in the frame, or shining too harshly on certain areas. It's just too harsh a light to be used inside the car as a secondary slave flash.

One thing I've heard of, that can be used to light a car interior, is light panels. These are supposedly, thin, flexable panels that emit reletively bright, soft light. My understanding is that they are often used for film making where there is going to be a scene in a car and the people need to be illuminated naturally. The panels can supposedly be secured to the ceiling, seat backs, etc. The problem is I can't find any such lights. If anyone knows where to get such a light or has another idea of how I could get natural, soft-looking lighting in the car, it would be of great help to me.

Thanks in advance,
Zach

P.S.
The idea is to take near the quality of pictures that can be seen in Nissan's Stock Photos, but of every individual car in my inventory. The whole process is very much a work in progress, with the interior shots being only one aspect. I realize that other aspects of the shoots are not at all perfect either.


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
Billings Photography (external link)

  
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 25, 2009 17:32 |  #2

Is this what you're talking about?

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …orescent_Light_​Panel.html (external link)


Robert
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Redfire_Cobra
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Aug 25, 2009 17:34 |  #3

I know it's not what you want to hear but...... I have got the best results from a 550EX on a light stand right outside the window fired trough an umbrella softbox. It's really a very simple setup and not hard to move, it also works good for engine bay shots.

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kempobmx1
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Aug 25, 2009 18:40 |  #4

Cobra, your idea could definitely work for the shots I take or the steering wheel, center console, and glove box areas, and I will take it into consideration. The issue is that it would not work for the shots I need to do into the front and rear seats, from outside the car. There's just nowhere I could position the flash where it can illuminate what I'm trying to shoot, without being in the shot. Furthermore, a huge problem I've been having is positioning a slave flash where it can actually be triggered by my master, camera mounted, flash. Thanks for the idea, and for the dash shots, I'll definitely look into that.

TMR Design, that is similar to what I am talking about, however I've heard of something thinner, more flexible, and more versatile. The item you linked to would be very difficult for me to use without it being visible in the shots, due to its size and how it needs to be mounted. Also, getting AC power into a car is tricky, so something battery powered would be ideal. Again, this is an actual item that I've heard of. I'm not making up a fantasy light, though it does sound like one (which probably means it would have a high price tag).

Not that this will help anyone know what I'm talking about, but I understand such lights were used in the filming of the movie, Collateral.


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
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MrScott
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Aug 26, 2009 00:55 |  #5

Judging by some of the full exterior shots on the website and questions about the interior lighting, the following links may help out. Of course you'll need radio slaves

http://strobist.blogsp​ot.com …t-night-chopper-pt-1.html (external link)
http://strobist.blogsp​ot.com …t-night-chopper-pt-2.html (external link)
http://strobist.blogsp​ot.com …-tube-style-lighting.html (external link)
http://strobist.blogsp​ot.com …signment-guy-on-boat.html (external link)

Most interior shots are lit from outside the vehicle and the windows are comp'ed back in. Also, usually they don't have doors or B-Pillars either...

On a side note, why so much vignetting in your shots?

If your taking interior shots thru a window you could also try the largest / lightest sheet of poster board you can find and use it as a roof reflector... Take several 3 or so foot strips of packing tape and attach to each corner, folding back over onto itself to cover the sticky. Picture the tape extending out the front and back doors on both sides and use them cynch up on the four corners so that the poster board is tight to the roof. Place your second light closest to your shooting position, zoom or grid tight on the poster board and bounce the light off the roof. As long as the roof isn't in your shot you should be fine.




  
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kempobmx1
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Aug 26, 2009 03:01 |  #6

If you look at the shots on the site, the shots being taken of the interior from outside the car, are being taken through an open door. There have proven to be no ways to get an IR slave flash to fire from within the car without it being visible in the shot. I suppose radio slaves would solve the issue of having to place the slave where the master will be able to trigger it. The problem is that I still can't think of a good place inside the car that I could place the slave flash, where it wouldn't be far too harsh.

Another issue with the radio slave is that I know nothing at all about radio slaves or what they cost.

As for the vignette, don't even get me started. I don't think it compliments the picture at all but my boss insists on it. I've had more than a dozen people tell me it looks terrible, but it's the one piece of input he doesn't seem to want to hear. I'm going to have to keep working on him to let me get rid of it.

In case I wasn't clear before. I think the poster board tapes to the ceiling wouldn't work because I have nowhere to position the flash where it won't be too harsh (not to mention that I currently can't even position it in a place where it can be triggered).


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
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SkipD
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Aug 26, 2009 04:07 |  #7

In you other thread, I mentioned the problem of mixed-color lighting. You will definitely want to use an electronic flash source for lighting the interiors if you are moving to a flash-based lighting of the exteriors.

I did not realize that the ugly vignetting was a desired "feature" of the overall lighting scheme. I assumed that it occurred because of the location of the lights and how the reflective panels were working for you. Your boss should realize that the vignetting does NOTHING beneficial for the images. If you want to keep that, you should probably keep the lighting you have and just eliminate the Speedlite from the equation. Use a portable incandescent light for the "fill" instead. Then, you can set your white balance on the camera to "incandescent" and eliminate the undesired color cast.


Skip Douglas
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kempobmx1
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Aug 26, 2009 11:41 |  #8

In the other thread, I explained that removing the Speedlite from the equation is not an option.

The reason I don't need to use a flash based light for the interiors is because I only need to find something with a very similar color temperature to the strobes. This could be done with a continuous LED or fluorescent light source.


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
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SkipD
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Aug 26, 2009 12:11 |  #9

kempobmx1 wrote in post #8526318 (external link)
In the other thread, I explained that removing the Speedlite from the equation is not an option.

The reason I don't need to use a flash based light for the interiors is because I only need to find something with a very similar color temperature to the strobes. This could be done with a continuous LED or fluorescent light source.

I rather doubt that LED or fluorescent lights will match up with the color balance of the Speedlight. If either can be a truly "daylight" equivalent light color, then you'd be OK.

If you could use a portable flash-powered softbox (12" x 12" or a little larger) inside the cars, you might be able to do wonders with the interior lighting.


Skip Douglas
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kempobmx1
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Aug 26, 2009 17:13 |  #10

Agreed for the flash powered soft box. Again, the problem is positioning the slave flash in such a place that it can be triggered by the master flash, without the slave being in the shot. As previously stated, I'm using my 430EX as my slave. I could get a 12x12 soft box for that. My issue is that there has to be line of sight from my master's Fong dome, to the slave's sensor. The only way I've been able to achieve that line of sight is by positioning the slave in such a place that it is either visible in the shot or it creates harsh shadows, because it was too close to the area I was shooting.

Take a look at the pictures on the site and you'll get an idea. Say I'm shooting the back seats from outside the car, shooting through the open door. Obviously if I was going to have a slave inside the car, it would need to be positioned in the front of the car, sitting pretty much right against the center console. The problem there is that it is then sitting too low to be triggered by the master. I can, of course, use a tripod to raise the slave. The problem with doing that has proven to be that the slave creates a very harsh shadow, caused by the front seats, as it is at that point raised so that it's too close to the ceiling of the car to use the ceiling to bounce the flash.

Let me know if any of that was unclear.


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
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tfizzle
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Aug 27, 2009 00:09 |  #11

Pick up some wireless triggers...set up strobe in a softbox/umbrella and shoot through the window up high down into it. Seems simple to me and is the easiest IMO to do.

While you'll have to get a pc sync adaptor (as the 430ex doesn't have a pc or mono port) it would only cost you appx $230 if you went through alienbees and got cybersyncs. Stands and softboxes a little more money. But that's cheaper than getting some kind of ultrathin lighting source to mount to the top of the cars.

I assume that product shooters of cars have a studio with wireless set up.




  
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kempobmx1
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Aug 27, 2009 11:16 as a reply to  @ tfizzle's post |  #12

Your idea works well enough for shooting the steering wheel, center console, and glove box shots. The problem is still that there are 4 shots where I need to shoot the seats through open doors. Passenger front, passenger rear, driver front, and driver rear. There is no way to shoot through a window for those shots, as the flash would be visible in the shot.

What I don't get is that if I'm putting a 430 on a stand or tripod with a soft box on it, there's no point buying a wireless trigger. I could just slave it using IR.


Canon 40D | EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 | 70-200 f/2.8L IS | 580EX II | 430EX
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stillresonance
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Aug 27, 2009 11:43 |  #13

How about lighting the car from outside, shooting the flash through the windshield. Position a softbox outside the windshield firing into the car. If you are shooting at an angle so that you are looking toward the back seat you will not see the windshield, yet the car should be flooded with diffused light. If you need to shoot towards the front do the same thing but put the softbox so it's firing through the back window, or any window not currently in your frame. Car has a sun roof? shoot through that! If you want the interiors to look natural then light them from outside.


Jeff

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http://www.flickr.com/​photos/stillresonance/ (external link)

  
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tfizzle
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Aug 27, 2009 12:04 |  #14

it's all about angles. You don't have to shoot to where you see the softbox. You could use the 580 on the hot shoe, and shoot the 430 through the other window for fill all around the car.

If I'm tempted to I will go and show you that you can do it pretty easily. If I see that I can't...i'll eat my words. But it should work in theory.




  
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SMP_Homer
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Aug 27, 2009 12:42 |  #15

white paper on a window... flash through it...

or gorillapod a flash on the window frame (door open obviously) with something to soften it up


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Lighting a car interior so it looks natural
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