Natural Light Interiors: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace: AdoramaTV

In this episode I’ll show you how I
created HDR images for the Dragonfly Inn. Adorama TV presents Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace. Hi everybody welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on Adorama TV. It’s brought to you by Adorama. The camera store that has everything for photographers like you and me. I’m
hanging out here in Mindo Ecuador with this giant, its
Ingo he’s my friend I met her at the Dragonfly Inn. He actually owns the Dragonfly Inn and when he found out that I was a photographer he mentioned that he had a
new website and he needed some photos, I said yeah I’ll take some photos for
you and so I wanted to talk to you about how those photos were made because there were some definite challenges that I had to overcome. So I wanted to make sure Mr. Ingo here got the photos that he deserved. But
before we talk about those photos I wanna tell you about the contest that Adorama
have. They are awesome and you can win some terrific
prizes so click the link right now and enter today. Well this photo shoot was a
blast but there are definitely some challenges that I had to overcome so let me walk through each of those one
by one and then we’ll get into the solutions that I implemented. The first big challenge was the light.
What we have right now is we have one source of light in this room.The lamps here
are just too dim to illuminate the room for photography. And so that actually caused some dynamic
range issues. You can’t really see the source of light, it’s a bunch of windows that are behind the camera that’s shooting me right now. So we have really bright light
coming in but falling off quickly. That light is reflecting pretty brightly
of the white sheets of the bed but these walls are made of dark wood
and so there absorbing the light and so we have a dynamic range issue. The bed is about two to three stops brighter than the walls. So we have to overcome
that. The second thing is I didn’t have really much time to shoot all the rooms in the hotel and I knew I’d
probably would make some mistakes in my metering and shooting. So I had to shoot in such a way that I can
overcome those mistakes in post-production. The last thing I
really needed to do was to really show off this room. Now I needed to do that to show all the
different features and so I had to make sure I chose the
right lens to make sure that people when he saw the room online, saw how awesome it really was. So let’s
talk about the solutions that I implemented. Now normally what I would do in a situation like this with light thats sort of difficult to work with. Is I’d bring in all my artificial light. My pro photo heads and I would light this
entire room artificially. But I am traveling really light so I
don’t even have a speedlight much less my pro photo gear but what I do have is my Benro travel
angel II tripod. That’s gonna get me out of a bind
because I can shoot a bracketed shot and create an HDR image. And so what I did was I set my tripod up in the corner of the room
and then I wanted to make sure I got a point of view that allowed me to shoot as much of the room as possible. So I’m raising my camera all the as tall as this tripod will go. So this
is about five and a half feet and then I chose a wide angle lens.
This is a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens and when I looked through the
lens I can see pretty much wall to wall. So
this wall all the way to this wall. Shows me the bed, all the windows behind and so that is awesome. Now what I wanted to do is make sure that people could see the entire room in focus and so I’m shooting at f/11 in aperture
priority mode. Now I don’t need to shoot at f/22 or some
really small aperture like that to get everything in focus because this is a
really wide angle lens and so I can fudge and shoot around f11. Also it’s a
pretty dark room so my ISO is at 800. I didn’t wanna kick it up any higher than that because I wanna keep the noise at a minimum. And because I have a tripod I can shoot some long exposures and so what I’ve done is to make sure I
can overcome those dynamic range issues, I’m bracketing my shots and so
I’m gonna shoot 5 shots. Two that are underexposed, two that are overexposed and one that’s exposed correctly and we’ll put those altogether later and create an HDR image. So what I’ve done is
I’ve set my drive mode to a two-second delay and if you watch my HDR image and
bracketing videos I shot a few episodes ago you know exactly what I’m talking about
and if you haven’t seen those then you might wanna watch it. But I’ve set all of that up, again ISO 800, f/11, I’m bracketing five shots. So I’m gonna shoot these and then were gonna hop over into our post-production and I’ll show you really
quickly how I did the HDR image. So let me shoot and we’ll jump over
there. Let’s take a look at the five images I created specifically for this video. We have one shot that is
expose correctly and you can see over here in Lightroom it says 0 EV exposure bias in other words this
is in the image that the camera that was
the correct exposure, and you could see all the issues we talked about before. We
have a correctly exposed window, the bed looks okay at this edge but as
we come to the interior of the room it’s completely dark. Let’s take a look at the rest of
the bracketed shots and I’ll show you how I selected the ones that were gonna use for our HDR image. This is the first under exposed shot. This is underexposed
by three and a third stops. What we have here is we have the
outside is a little bit underexposed and interior
is totally unexposed. I’m not going to use this shot because
what I’m really looking for are correctly expose windows and a correctly
exposed edge of the bed here. So if we go to the next bracketing shot this one is under exposed by one and two-thirds stops. You can see that we have properly
expose Windows the bed looks like it’s got a correct
exposure here on the edge. That’s the one I’m going to use. So we’ve already flagged that. We look at our overexposed images, here is the shot
that’s overexposed by one and two thirds exposure, one and two third stops. You see here we’ve got details on
this wall but over here where we really need to have some image information there really isn’t any. So I’m going to choose
this shot that shows all the wood and all the stuff over
here. Now we’re going to have some issues way over here in the corner, you’re gonna
see that were gonna some noise show up here pretty clearly, but these
are shot for the web and so that’s gonna be acceptable. So we go back to our gridview you can see
I’ve already selected these three shots. So I’ll select those. Then what I’ll do is I’ll right click and I’m going to say export, Photomatix
Pro. Now Photomatix is an awesome piece
of software and I love it for creating HDR images. I covered this
in a previous episode so take a look at the links you’ll see all the stuff. So Im just gonna
go right through this I’m gonna export these and these three images by the way were
shot in raw. Are going to be merged in Photomatix. Were we will create our HDR image there. Okay and with the magic of editing here is our image that’s
been combined. We’ve got to do some things to this image. Now one of the things I like about
Photomatix is that there are some built-in presets. We’ve got the default
preset, we’ve got some balance presets. These sort of are taking all the settings and creating
something that you can duplicate over and over. So this
right here this painterly look, it’s not something I’m a fan of. So why did here when I was creating these images for Ingo is I went in and I edited these. I started
with I think it’s a neutral setting here. Then I went in and I adjusted the settings here. Once I got those to the place that I
liked I created my own preset called hotel Mindo, and this is my starting point now for
all of the images that I created after that. You can see over here, I don’t know will this show up, you can see the noise that I was talking about. This is sort of a loop view
here. See that we’ve got a lot of noise over
here in this corner and so you know it’s something we’re
gonna have to deal with when were working with the light that we have in
this situation. So a few things that I’ll do here. One is I’m going to adjust the gamma. Think of the gamma as adjusting the midpoints. The mid tones of the image and that will
adjust the contrast as well. So if I drag this to the left you’ll see that it’s a little darker
more contrasty and if I drag this to the right you’ll see it’s a little brighter and
less contrasty. So I’m gonna adjust that first so I get a contrast that I like. I sorta like this. Then I’m going to adjust
the black point, if I pull that to the right you’ll see that
the dark tones are more pronounced and if pull that to the left you’ll see that the blacks are not quite
as black and then I’m going to also adjust the white point. I want this bed to be
white not grey. So If i pull that to the right, you’ll see that the whites get whiter. if I pull that to the left you’ll see they get a
little bit duller. So I’m gonna pull that to the right until I see, just by looking I have a nice white bed and I like that. So I’m gonna save and re import. Now remember I’m just blasting through this, if you really wanna see
some information on HDR images make sure you check out the tutorial I
did on HDR images and bracketing in previous episodes of Exploring Photography. Okay so our tone mapping is complete. I’m going to go right back
over here into Lightroom and you can see here is
our finished photo. A couple of other things that I did to
these images, I’ll hop into the developed module. I really want these to be crystal clear
and nice and sharp and so what I’ll do here is I would normally
go down to the sharpening and sharper that my about 45 or 50 just so there nice and clear. As I mentioned before here is all
that noise that we knew was going to show up. We can do some noise reduction but because this is for the web when it’s compressed and
really small that’s not even going to show up. So we
got a great picture, let’s take a look at our before and after. So this is what
we would normally get with a an exposed image right out of the
camera. This is what we got making an HDR image and before we’re done, I want to jump
over into a different catalog. The actual catalog are used for the shoot
and show you two more things that I did to help out these images. Well here’s the
actual catalog of the images that I shot for the actual production. I wanna show you a couple of things, the
first is what the wide angle lens does for the image.
We take a look at this shot right here, it looks like a pretty
large room but in reality the room is not so big. Take a look at
this bed you can see it’s pretty close to the wall it takes at most in the room. But because
of the distortion of that 16mm lens it makes this room look spacious. If we go
back here you can see that all these rooms sort of have that distortion to them where they look much
larger than they actually are. It’s one of those tricks of architectural
photography if you wanna make your rooms look spacious use a
wider angle lens. Well there are a couple of other things I
wanna show you here. The first is a compositional trick. So if I take a look
at two different shots. Here’s one shot of a room and here is another shot. This is the
exact same room but look at the difference that a choice of lens placement makes. This shot
right here shows the windows and the doors and the balcony and all the characteristics
of the room. We see the bed and this old lamp it looks terrific.
When I move my camera over to this door over here to get similar shot you can see that this just
looks well pretty dull. The reason for that is about
a third of the shot from this angle is this wall that
art hasn’t been hung on yet. You can see that looks sort of plain and
drab even this room is pretty awesome. So just by moving the camera over it
minimizes this wall and we see all the characteristics of the
wood and the outside and this is a much much better choice of shot.
So make sure you pay attention and if you’re not sure take multiple
angles of each shot. There’s one more thing that I had to
do to some of these images. Here’s a shot, I’m gonna jump into the develop module. Part of the problem with and shooting in this environment is
the wood is very very orange and so what we were getting
here is I’ll kick out this here and what I did was
I created a couple of snapshot. So this is the initial shot you can see this is very
very orange and I was able to fix that. You can see this is the after shot I was able to take that orange out. The way that I did that was pretty
simple I just went down here to the saturation and I change this orange slider. So I’ll show you the final again and you can see that this orange
lighter is down by about -23. That just fixes all that orange color
cast that the wood creates. Now you’re asking why would I just fix this as a color temperature fix. Well the problem is that color cast
wasn’t showing up on my white target here and so the really easy
quick-fix was just to slide this orange slider down and that
fixed all of that. Well that’s how I created the picture
for Ingo the giant and his giant dogs here in Mindo Ecuador. Thank you so much for joining me for
this episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to Adorama TV so you don’t miss a single episode and
also check out the Adorama Learning Center were you’ll see some of the stuff that I
already talked about specifically bracketing and creating HDR images. Thanks again for joining me and I’ll see again next time. Thanks Ingo. Your welcome thank you. Do you want great-looking prints at low-cost? Be sure to visit our easy to use online printing service. Adorama pics has professionals who treat your images with the utmost care that you can count
on. For a quick turnaround on photos, cards for albums use

43 Replies to “Natural Light Interiors: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace: AdoramaTV”

  1. Couple of things don't make sense to me.  I'm curious as to why you'd shoot ISO 800.  You're shooting a static scene and you have a tripod, why not use ISO 100 to maximize dynamic range and minimize noise?  One of the shots was an 8 second exposure, so you're clearly not looking for fast exposure times.  

    Secondly, when shooting interiors, it's not desirable to have converging verticals.  You don't "show more" of the room that way at all, it's distracting to viewers since it's not the way our eye sees things, and it makes for weak composition – you have none of the interesting ceiling.  

    Finally, the mode used in Photomatix is precisely the kind of HDR that most people don't like.  It exaggerates colours, and that's why you find yourself having to reduce orange saturation.  There's a better mode in exposure fusion vs. tone mapping.  

  2. This was a very informative video… thanks! Can you tell me if you would recommend fixing the distortion caused by the wide angle lens? Why or why not? I would tend toward fixing it to make the rooms look more natural. If I walked into these rooms, my eyes would not see any keystoning or distortion, so wouldn't fixing that create a more realistic view of the room?

  3. Thanks Mark. I've learned a lot from your many videos over the years. Given you had a tripod, would you have less noise by using a lower ISO like 100?

  4. Hi Mark! Amazing video as always. I have a simple NOOB question. Why did you choose ISO 800 instead of ISO 100? Since you're using a tripod, there's no need to get a fast shutter speed right? Thanks! Cheers!

  5. New on AdoramaTV!

    The sunlight today in New York is amazing. Learn how to best use natural light in your interior shoots with @Mark Wallace in our latest #AdoramaTV  episode.

    Watch here:

  6. I had to stop when he said "Photomatix."
    It's the Worst, ACR in 32bit destroys Photomatix. What's more, the integration between Lightroom and Photoshop can't be beat.

    I love ya Mark, but lose Photomatix man.

  7. I'm absolutely shocked Mark allowed such drastic converging verticals in these shots. I've been under the impression this is a big no no in interior design shots. Thoughts?

  8. Mark, whats up with the clunky video?

    I like that you found the best angle in the room. What a difference it makes. The large wall makes the room look so tiny vs the other position minimizing the wall. Even with pictures the windows are much better as they provide light. 

  9. Hi Mark.  I've shot a couple of rooms with HDR, and the primary critique I've received is not having the vertical lines straight. What are your thoughts regarding vertical lines verses perspective angle?

  10. Thanks for the videos. The composition and framing for each shot looks a little strange –  as it makes the place look like a funky fun house with the distortion and slanted verticals. I guess this may be the style you were going for, but probably you did not have a tilt shift lens available to keep verticals vertical and distortion to a minimum. When I look at these photos I immediately say to myself 'wow the rooms are so small that they had to use such a wide angle lens … as is evident from the distortion'. Sorry, but these have a real estate 'drive-by shooting' style. Could you have shot the frames from a lower vertical position to get composition with floor and ceiling but reduce the keystoning / slanted verticals? 

  11. Hey Mark, love your videos and appreciate you sharing knowledge.  That being said, I got to call you out for the one shot where you can see people on a deck through the hotel room window.  That's a no-no in my book.  You are a better photographer than I probably ever will be, but I'm a damn good editor.  Thanks again for the great videos!

  12. Straighten out your tripod head, Mark! Those converging vertical lines are an eyesore, rule number one in interiors photography.

    Also, there is nothing worth showing in that view. No need to expose for the detail outside. Feel free to meter for the interior and underexpose a bit until there's just a little detail outside. Any darkness inside should be helped with the shadows slider in lightroom. No need for HDR.

    Also, need more light on that back wall? Open the exterior doors, pull the curtains up or off. Shoot an additional exposure, layer it over the base exposure and mask in the lightened corners. Even use that bed sheet to bounce light if you have to, just mask in each area by compositing exposures.

    Last, don't shoot the size of the room. Shoot the feeling. A tighter comp on part of the room can tell a story. A wide shot to squeeze it all in doesn't communicate the emotion of these spaces. Use a longer focal length. Open those doors. Build a story by framing your image, arranging furniture to suit, and telling the story of the room.

  13. I really liked the comment at the end about lens placement to show the features of the room vs including too much of the wall the bed's against.

  14. I'm guessing the converging verticals were not corrected to make the room appear larger. While it may accomplish this, it is not visually appealing. I think this is another example of a photographer with skills in other facets of photography who doesn't know much about shooting interiors.

  15. Why not use base iso? The camera is on on a tripod. You gain nothing by raising the iso. You need all the dynamic range you can get.

  16. Great lesson! I've just begun working with a realtor and taking web and brochure shots for her. This HDR lesson was invaluable for me. Sometimes the turnaround time is limited to like one day after the shoot, but with a little Photomatix and Lightroom savvy, I was able to create some pretty nice images. They're now on her 360 view site as well as headed to the printer for a nice brochure! Thanks so much for this!

  17. As others have said… The verticals are awful. ISO 800?? With a tripod? You've given me so much knowledge over the years, this is just sending someone down the wrong path. ISO 320, HORIZONTAL, two second timer, aperture priority, Lightroom CC and you're off to the races.

  18. Hey there! I'm far from a good photographer. I have an internet shop of furniture and an average camera (Nikon D7000). You helped me a lot to find a solution with not very good light for some of my shots. Now I know how to do new pics. Thank you very much and good luck!

  19. OMG, this video triggers my senses so bad, I'm a real estate photographer and terms like "it's for the web, the noise is acceptable" is not acceptable to me, no professional photographer should have such a "that'll do" mentality. Like many others in comments, the converging lines and 800 ISO is just plain wrong, it's on a tripod, why not use between 100 and 200 ISO to reduce that noise. From a personal standpoint, I would use full manual mode for exposure, not aperture priority like suggested, but I am somewhat of a control freak when it comes to my photography work.

  20. I'm a professional real estate photographer and I NEVER make rooms larger then they actually are. And I allways shoot ISO 100 doing interiors on a tripod.

  21. I guess while there are photographers like you, I will always get my clients who are happy to meet me! 🙂 Don't stop! Keep doing it this way!

  22. Hi Adorama – love your videos and Mark’s work! Not on this occasion though. There is so much bad advice in this tutorial! I realise it’s about 5 years old now, but as others have said; no need to go any higher than ISO320 shooting a static scene from a tripod. Also, f/11 is way overkill – f/5.6 would easily do for these size rooms. You also gotta shoot in manual and take more brackets (5/7) to blend to really get those shadows lifted. Lastly, shoot from about kneeling height for a more neutral viewpoint and level the camera to straighten the verticals! Oh, and guests won’t be impressed at any wide angle photography ‘tricks’ that make the rooms look larger on the web. They’ll only be disappointed on arrival when things don’t live up to expectations. Mark’s let himself down here which is very unlike him! Glad to have watched some more excellent tutorials since this was made!

  23. Dreadful images. Awful composition, converging verticals, horrible HDR coloring, poor color casts and color correction, flat with no contrast or depth. Photographers, do not follow this tutorial!

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