Interior lighting

The main problem here is contrast, and to a lesser extent the dimness and color of the light. The lighting range between, say, the most shadowy corner of an interior and outside detail shown through a window is often beyond the exposure capabilities of your film or sensor. To avoid this problem you could exclude windows, keeping them behind you or to one side out of frame, but where windows need including as an important architectural feature:

1 Shoot when the sky is overcast.

2 Pick a viewpoint where windows in other walls help illuminate interior detail.

3 Capture a series of bracketed exposures from which you can select the best image later. After all, some degree of window 'burn out' may prove atmospheric and acceptable provided you have retained important detail in shadow areas. Alternatively, the bracketed pictures can be used to assemble a High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo using the tools inside Photoshop. This photo type is capable of storing images with huge contrast ranges.

4 With smaller domestic size interiors, fill-in flash from the camera can reduce contrast, but don't expect success using this technique in a space as vast as a cathedral, especially using a camera with a tiny built-in flash!

Figure 18.11 Dome of St Peter's, Rome. Wide-angle lens, exposed for 1/8 second at f5.6, pressing the camera firmly to a handrail.

Figure 18.11 Dome of St Peter's, Rome. Wide-angle lens, exposed for 1/8 second at f5.6, pressing the camera firmly to a handrail.

Figure 18.12 Mass in St Peter's. Mixed artificial light and daylight. Figure 18.13 Paris fountains. Exposure was read from the central, The altar area records orange on daylight film. lit water area.

Dimness of light need be no problem provided your camera offers long exposure times and you have some kind of firm camera support - improvised or, preferably, a tripod (see Figure 18.11). Some cameras offer timed exposures of up to 30 seconds. By selecting aperture priority mode and setting an f-number chosen for depth of field, the camera's metering system will automatically hold the shutter open for a calculated period. If you time this with a watch you can then change to manual mode and take shots at half and double this exposure time to get a range of results. Or better still, if your camera has an exposure compensation system, simply adjust the feature to add one stop more and one stop less exposure.

Even during daytime, the interiors of large public buildings are often illuminated by artificial light mixed with light through windows and entrances. In most cases, the interior light is a warmer color than daylight - a difference barely noticed by the eyes of someone there at the time but exaggerated in a color photograph (see Figure 18.12). In such a mixture of lighting, it is still best to continue to use normal daylight-type film, with no color correction filtering, as totally removing the orangey artificial light can turn daylit areas unacceptably bluish. As we have already seen most digital camera users have the advantage of being able to take several versions of the same mixed lighting image with different white balance settings. Later on, with the series of pictures displayed on screen, they can select the picture with the best overall color.

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