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Thread: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

  1. #1
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    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hi there,

    I am interested in photography, am not a pro or anything, just like taking pics.

    I've recently moved to a house that has a few French windows in the living room (sounds posh, but it's not!). I've been trying to get a good pic of the room to send to friends and family, but find that either:

    a. When I don't use flash I can get a reasonable result for the interior, but the exterior is blown out.
    Actually the interior is a little darker than I would like.
    (1/20, f5, ISO 1600).

    or

    b. I use flash to counter the light coming in from the windows, but it makes the interior look too "flashy" (boom boom!).
    (1/125, f5, ISO 1600).

    Do stitch 2 pics together in Adobe? Or is there another way?

    Please help!!

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hello Geri and welcome to CiC.

    When you get time, it would be good to know where you are. You can go to Edit Profile and enter your location so that it then appears alongside all your posts, just as in my details alongside this message. Then we all know where everyone is in the world.

    Anyway - to your question.

    You have two options:-

    You use artificial ligth

    You take multiple exposures (one for inside and one for outside, and you blend them)

    You say that when you use 'flash', what are we talking about? Is it the on-board camera flash. Is it one flash unit either on or off the camera or are we talking studio type lighting set-ups? The fact is that to get the 'magazine look' on interior shots is a highly specialised skill and can, depending on location, require a big lighting set up.

    There are people on here who are very good at it. I know that Colin Southern has shown us interior shots he's done in the past, as have some others.

    The other option, as we say, is to take more than one image and then blend them. That requires a moderate post-processing skill level. There are many different means and methods of blending images. What is available to you will be determined by the post-processing software package that you are using.

  3. #3

    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hello Geri:

    Turn on all the lights in the room. The preference for me is to not use flash because it changes the ambience of the room.

    Wait for a time of day when the light on the outside of the windows is ambient especially if you have a great view or a garden. You should expose for the exterior, set your ISO accordingly and then exposure compensate for the interior. Typically this means to increase since the interior is darker. You may also need to use flash if the interior is quite dark. Your on camera flash with a small diffuser should do. With a flash, instead of natural light, you will probably again have to change the exposure compensation, this time toward the negative side.

    Get the best angle of the room and the windows. You may want to get up on a stepladder or down low for the best angle.

    You can also do several exposures for both interior and exterior and blend them. However, that is quite a lot of trouble for something that should work well using the above instructions. Try doing a longer exposure with a tripod instead.

    With those, you will get both the room interior and the view through the windows.

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    There are several ways to "balance" interior with exterior light...

    In the "old days" of professional motion picture shooting, we used to cover windows with ND gels than also converted the outdoor color temperature to 3200K and then we would light the interior with our lights which were also very often 3200K; unless it was a Hollywood set using carbon arc lights.

    This method, of course is not at all practical for the home photographer. I just mentioned it because it illustrates what we want to do - balance the itensity and color temperature of the indoor light with that of the outdoor light.

    I would try to shoot the interior shots at a time of day when the outdoor ambient light is not exceptionally bright. That is on a cloudy day or in the morning or afternoon. The angle of the sun is also important and it is better not to have the sun shining directly in the windows.

    I prefer to turn on all the interior llights and bounce one or two flashes off the ceiling. The flashes will provide intensity and color temperature somewhat in line with the outdoor light and the lower color temperature of the interior incandescent lighting will show up as being warm and not at all objectional.

    I am sure that other forum members will have different ways to accomplish the goal of getting a decent room image.

    Here are a couple of shots done in a Natchez, Mississippi Antebellum mansion. The windows show up as brighter than the interiors but, I don't think it detracts from the images. I could have used a faster shutter speed which would have cut down the brightness of the windows while the TTL of the flash would have provided enough light to balance the outdoor sunlight...

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Note: I did not have control of the lights when I shot these images...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 29th October 2011 at 04:23 PM.

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    I think Richard has the best solution. I started out with dslr doing this and it isn't easy, you definitely need a tripod unless you are going the flash route. I think maybe you have to wait for darker outside, and use lights inside.

    Otherwise; I like Picturenaut for blending. It is halloween :

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hi Geri, here is an example of using only available light and shooting multiple exposures on a tripod, then combining them into a single image in post processing.

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Here is another, using the same method but with a few lights on in the house. This raises the color balance problem of the color temperature of the interior lights not matching the sunlight color.

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    In this shot the fluorescent green, incandescent yellow and sunlight blue temperatures would need to be adjusted to produce a color balanced image.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 29th October 2011 at 05:55 PM.

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hi there,

    Thanks to everyone for your advice - it's early Sunday now and I'm gonna give your techniques a try! Stay tuned for the result ...

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Geri, here is an example of using only available light and shooting multiple exposures on a tripod, then combining them into a single image in post processing.

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Here is another, using the same method but with a few lights on in the house. This raises the color balance problem of the color temperature of the interior lights not matching the sunlight color.

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    In this shot the fluorescent green, incandescent yellow and sunlight blue temperatures would need to be adjusted to produce a color balanced image.
    Nice work Frank...

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Hi Geri,

    I think everyone has pretty much covered everything well above. Possibly the only other technique I can think of is exposing for the outside and using a truckload of fill light slider in post-processing. If you give this a go then it's essential that you shoot RAW and as a low ISO.

    In reality, what you're asking isn't easy - at the end of the day, what's outside IS a lot brighter, and it's difficult to reflect that in a photo in a way that doesn't show some kind of compromise.

    Personally, I just light the interiors with several strobes ... (you can actually see a reflection of one in the top pane of glass of the door that has the cat visible - oops!)

    Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Viana View Post
    The preference for me is to not use flash because it changes the ambience of the room.
    Hi Viana,

    Easiest way to get around this is to simply put some CTO gels on the flashes.

  10. #10

    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    Hi Viana,

    Easiest way to get around this is to simply put some CTO gels on the flashes.
    Yes, I know, Colin but I am one of those picky folks who prefers to work with available light and then correct in PS processing.

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    Re: Help! How to take a pic of an entire room, without exterior overexposing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Nice work Frank...
    Thank you, Richard. When you don't have the cash for a lighting setup (nor your and/or Colin's magnificent skill in using it!), you make due with what you have!

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