Home interior shoot; Lens size considerations and lighting tips.

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I have a couple of opportunities coming up to shoot some very nicely decorated home interiors for practice. I say practice as I am not expecting payment since I have never done this, although have always wanted to. One of the homes features some promienent antiques, and the other one is a very old historical house being renovated for living in by the owner as well as for tours. Since my smallest nice lens is a 135mm, I'm thinking of getting something like a (used) 90mm or 75mm lens for my Super Graphic, which will barely take a 65. I'm really not interested in using a center filter, so I would suspect the 75 would be too wide. For those that have shot interiors, what lens sizes do you find practical for homes in the smaller than mansion size.

Second, I have 3ea 1200 watt strobes and one Nikon SB24 (GN about 220) on a slave that can be hidden. I have two 24x36" softboxes. I will read everything I can in preperation as far as the lighting is concerned, (and practice at home), but are there any hints you can pass along or things to especially watch out for. I suspect window light will be my main concern. I do have a polaroid back.

I'll probably shoot Astia pushed 1 stop, but have thought about taking some Fuji RTP 64 for ambient interior light "mood" shots. Thoughts?

-- Wayne Crider (waynec@apt.net), October 01, 2000


For residential interiors, my preference is to use a 90mm over a wider lens but in reality it is the space that will determine your lens choice. If you can't get a deep enough f-stop with a single 'pop' of the strobes I suggest you try determining what the exposure length should be for the ambient light (the existing interior lights and the daylight lit scenes through the window, and then dividing that length of time by the number of 'pops' you'll need to and multiple exposing.

For example: The ambient light at f/22 dictates a two second exposure and you determine you'll need to fire the strobes 4 times to bring up the flash lit portion of the photo to whwere you want it. Make 4 half second exposures (4 x .5 = 2 seconds) with time in between the exposures for the flashes to fully recycle. My experience is that when doing this it is often advisable to figure that you'll need anywhere from 1/2 stop to a full stop more exposure than is indicated by the Polaroid (assuming Polaroid is the same ISO as the film). You might want to consider renting a couple of Chimera lanterns (a 360 degree soft box) or using translucent umbrellas and shooting the light through the backside of the umbrella for better light distribution.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), October 01, 2000.

I have a 47, 65 & 90. Wouldn't want to do without the 65 & 90 but could manage without the 47. I use center filters on all of them. I have used tungsten film to use in tungsten light. The images look ok but are not nearly as warm as the results are when using daylight balanced film combined with flash & some ambient tungsten. The tungsten film & light look technically good but do not give the warmth as with the daylight film, flash & ambient tungsten.

-- guy (guymanderson@msn.com), October 02, 2000.

I've found that the smaller the home, the wider the lens you'll need. This is because you often can't move back very far. I use a 65 and a 90 without center filters, and there is no problem. You'll probably need to do several Polaroid tests to get the lighting just right, eliminating unwanted shadows and reflections. If you're going to mix tungsten lighting with strobe light, EPN is said to be the most forgiving film for mixed lighting.

-- Stewart Ethier (s_ethier@parkcity.net), October 02, 2000.

For interiors I use 58, 72, 90, 110, and use CF on 58 most of the time, and only on the 72 if using significant movements. I've used a 47 in the past, but find it way too wide for most uses. I try my best to stay at 72 and longer. I agree with the previous comment about the smaller the house, the shorter the lens. The big trick is finding the shot, and not believing that you have to show everything in the photo. Many clients typically think they really want that wide angle view, but a better shot can sometimes be had by using a longer lens and implying what isn't in the shot. I'm not aware of any transparency films which have the mixed lighting forgiveness of print films like NPS. As a back-up, I always shoot one or two sheets of NPS/NPL. Some halogens going a bit warm on daylight film I find OK, but regular household bulbs end up with a sickly almost orange color. If lights are on in the shot, it is usually just to make it look like the lights are on, and those lights usually provide an insignificant amount of light towards the total exposure (e.g. out of a 30 sec. exposure, the lights might be on for just 1 or 2 seconds). Of course, the only rule is that there aren't any rules. The situation and desired results dictates the approach.

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), October 04, 2000.

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