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Photography Question 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
 

Home Interiors


I have been asked by the company I work for to shoot some interiors of completed homes. I am shooting a Nikon D70S with the Nikon 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5 G lense and the SB800 flash. I am having some problems getting the photos to come out like I want them.

1) No matter where I stand and take the shots something always seems to be out of level, not straight up and down, or leaning.

2) I am getting distortion at the edges of the photo making columns look bowed. I think this is due to the wide angle of the lense and the columns being so close to the camera and that there is probably nothing I can do about this other than crop the columns out.

3) In long rooms (i.e. a kitchen with white cabinets) the cabinets nearest me are almost overexposed while the areas toward the opposite end of the room and at the edges of the photo are dark. Would bouncing the flash off the ceiling be of any benefit?

HELP! Any ideas?

Thanks,

Todd


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3/7/2006 12:19:11 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  You know what Todd, and I hate to probably be the first one to tell ya, but this is why photographers who specialize in architectural interiors walk soft and carry a 4x5 or 8x10 view camera along with a lot of different lights. It's to correct the perspective, among other things. You're basically asking how to foreshorten a room to control perspective. If you had the gear to do it, I'd be glad to explain it, but evidently you don't.

And, of course, once you learn how to shoot with a view camera, you also need to learn lighting. The solutions you mentioned aren't necessarily the right technique and vary quite a bit from one interior or room to another.

From your questions, it appears as though you're looking for a course in architectural interior work. It takes quite awhile to learn how to do that kind of work well. Take a look at publications like Architectural Record and Architectural Digest magazines, among others and you'll see what I mean.

It's likely that while you may be having a good time doing this, your company is going to be using this work for some type of advertising/promotion/ catalog work, or product sheets. If so, you're likewise being taken advantage of, i.e., paying you a pittance for work they know costs upwards towards $1,600 to $2,100 per day, plus expenses.

Not withstanding how much you're getting paid for this stuff, you should learn to use the right format with the proper lenses for the shots and rent the equipment you need to do this right while charging for your time accordingly and passing on the pre-agreed upon equipment rental fees along with the invoice.

Now, I can safely say that I have shot a number of interiors using 35mm and perspective corrective lenses, and also in medium format, but it's tricky requiring careful camera placement and set-up including being plumb, square and level.

Meanwhile, take it light.
Mark


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3/7/2006 1:13:33 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Short of investing in perspective control lenses or a medium/large format technical camera there are some things you can do.

(1) make sure the camera is level. Pointing up or down will exacerbate "convergence", aka "keystoning" - the effect where parallel lines bend in.

(2) Barrel distortion is generally worse for wide-angle zooms than for wide angle primes, so a good 14mm, or 20mm prime might be worthwhile. I believe that barrel distortion can also be corrected with digital editors.

(3) An on-camera flash cannot light an entire room evenly. The light from the flash drops off precipitously with distance. Bouncing helps only a little. To balance the exposure of flash-lit near subject with ambient lit backgound you need to "drag the shutter." Use a tripod, set a longish shutter speed and aperture that will properly expose the background without regard for the flash, then use the flash for fill light.


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3/7/2006 1:29:15 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Mark,

I was afraid you were going to tell me something like that. I do have some studio lights; but, that is it other than the D70. I work for my parents so it is kind of hard to ask for $1,600 a day to do this, LOL. They don't have any idea what it cost for production work like this, and, quite frankly, I am not doing it for the money. They have been good to me over the years and it is a way to give them a little return on their investment if you will. I would hate for you to have to sit down and type the explaination. If you know of any good websites that might discuss this a little let me know. Or if you'd like to contact me off list go to my free gallery and contact me through that. I'm skeptical about posting my email address on message boards.

As usual, you are full of good info. Unfortunately I am not set up to do what has been asked of me.

Thanks for your time.

Todd


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3/7/2006 1:33:07 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Todd,
Jon gives some good suggestions above about how you can do a better job with your current equipment.

He said, "I believe that barrel distortion can also be corrected with digital editors."

I think I read an article in a recent issue of Shutterbug about doing this type of correction in Photoshop. I'll try to find it tonight when I get home.

Chris


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3/7/2006 1:51:06 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Okie dokie Todd. So now that we know who is funding this project, it's time for the folks to spring for a 4x5 view camera and a couple of lenses. You could probably get a good clean used Toyo 45G with a couple of lenses like a 90mm w/a and 150 mm, some film holders and a polaroid back and a dark cloth for less than a grand depending on the kind of lenses you choose.

Then, you want to ask them for some paid time off in order to learn how to use the thing and maybe take a few courses in large format photography. You're their kid. You deserve this help in your future career. Yes??
;>)
[I am SUCH a troublemaker] LOL !!! (Ask Kerry)
Mark


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3/7/2006 2:21:12 PM

 
David Earls   Todd,

Chris is correct (as usual). Lens distortion is easily corrected in Photoshop. Simply click Filter/Distort/Lens distortion... and you'll bring up a small version of your image overlaid with a grid. Then you can correct either barrel distortion or pincushion (or both) with two sliders.

This is one area that has unquestionably been simplified with digital photography and image processing.


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3/7/2006 3:06:02 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Thanks Jon, Chris, and David. I'll see what I can come up with. Mark, I like your ideas; but, they would probably go over like a lead balloon. LOL. I think I have the tools to make this thing work now.


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3/7/2006 3:49:32 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Mark has a thing for using the right tools for the right job, that's all. He's also not too fond of people getting in over their heads, like opening up a studio with no business experience. He just couldn't justify building a house without wood, ya know? lol, Mark I see where you are coming from!


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3/7/2006 3:55:50 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  I agree. The right tools for the right job. I have read a lot of his posts and a lot of Chris V's posts and find them very informative. I value their opinions. These photos don't have to be perfect; but, I am very hard on myself when it comes to these things and want to do the best job I can with what I have available. They will be hung in our decorating center where every home buyer we get through there will see. Thanks again guys for the input.

Todd


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3/7/2006 4:05:17 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Here's my 02. If you plan on doing this more and more, maybe invest in a wider lens for the D70s. The 17 comes out to be a what...26mm or so?? Shoot on over cast days so you have soft light in the windows evenly lighting the houses, unless you want to go for a direct sunlight thing, which works in some cases. Use a heavy tripod, if you don't have one, find a way to hang a 5-10lb sandbag on yours (don't break it though). Use a cable release or the timer mode so you have the minimilist movements on the camera. Make sure no one else is walking around the house to cause slight vibrations. Use the lowest ISO you have (200 on the D70, not sure about the D70s). Shoot in RAW and bracket your shots. Digital is sensitive so hmmm (I don't shoot digi BTW) -1 stop, 0, and +1 stop; find the closest you want and use your levels and curves. Don't use them directly but use them in adjustment layers so that you're not altering your pixels. The later depending on how large you want to print, interpolate up to what you want. This is where I stop, I have no clue about interpolation but maybe others know of the best programs (I hear PS isn't all that strong on upscaling). Hope this helps a tad.


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3/7/2006 4:20:17 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Justin, every little bit helps. Thanks.


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3/7/2006 5:12:55 PM

 
David E. Anderson   I would also say in terms of keeping things simple you could use available light at the right time of day. I own d70 and it take decent photos that can be blown up little to 8X10 or whatever. Shooting in raw would be helpful. That sb800 can be used off camera with a stand for some fill but like I said it really come down to available light short of having 4 dynalights and 2 packs. The sb800 can be programed to fire remotely (look at the manual). The trick is to get maximum depth of field while retaining a balance with the flash and available light somtimes this requires multiple pops to build up exposure. Ive assisted a few archtectural photographers in my time and I would say that alot of it is really about the ability to make an intersting photo that makes the space look inviting and has some element of creative probelm solving, this will take you much further then techy know how. Oh and if you do upscale in photoshop you can do it by 10percent at a time, it yields a smoother file. Have fun Tod....


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3/8/2006 11:32:59 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Thanks David.


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3/9/2006 5:34:00 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
 
 
 
Hey folks,
Thanks for all the replies. Here is what I wound up with, which everybody is happy with.


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3/17/2006 11:03:31 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  By the way. I brought in 3 250 watt photo floods on stands and played around with exposure compensation a little and got the shot. It seems though, when uploaded to BP it is a little darker than the actual photo when viewed on my monitor. The key seemed to be the extra light and making sure the camera was level and centered in the room. While comoposing the shot I made sure that the countertop was parallel to the bottom of the viewfinder and that got everything else straight as it is supposed to be. Again thanks for all your help.


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3/17/2006 11:12:31 AM

 
Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/18/2004
 
 
  Todd's house pic edited
Todd's house pic edited
© Nancy Grace Chen
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
 
 
Good thread... I might be doing some interiors myself, so it's good info. Sorry, I couldn't resist from applying some editing to it... I just did some color correction (more blue/cyan to counter the yellow cast) and curves adjustment on it. With some photo editing, I think you are on your way to creating some very appealing images.

Nancy


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3/20/2006 10:59:26 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the input. I am lightening it up a bit; but, there is a fine line between lightening and overexposing. The problem is, and there is no way to get rid of it, the window in the room behind the kitchen. I also don't want to loose the detail of the cabinets (i.e. the grooves in the doors), which I think is lost in the edited photo. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking what you did, I am just saying I probably will not go quite that far with it. I know you were just playing around with it. I do want the cabinets to be white though.

It has been a real learning experience. I learned how exposure compensation works and as a matter of fact probably could have used some more. Thanks again.

Todd


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3/20/2006 11:20:02 AM

 
Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/18/2004
  I see... yeah, that's hard. and stuff always looks different on different monitors. Thanks for pointing out those details. Good luck to you on everything!

Nancy


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3/20/2006 11:25:41 AM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  On my monitors the edited looks great. The first one looks very dull, dark, and small. The second one is nice and bright, almost like a breezy beachhouse, and looks way more open. And plus I don't think clients who are wanting to buy houses are going to gripe that the photo has blown out spots. If I were the consumer, I'd be more apt to look at a house with the second photo, than from seeing the first one [even though they are the same picture]. That's my my $0.02


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3/20/2006 1:29:03 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
  Justin,

I agree the second one looks better as far as being open and airy. That is why I am going to work on it more. I hope I am able to find a happy medium that will still be bright; but, still keep the detail in the cabinets. It's all about marketing and the thing about the edited photo is all you see is the white and not the color on the walls which is what the photo is for in the first place, to show off wall paint colors. Once I get it finished, I'll post the finished product and see what you think. You have given me good suggestions in the past so I do value your opinion.

Todd


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3/20/2006 1:51:03 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Awesome I'd love to see your finished. I didn't realize you were after wall colors. I was under the assumption you where showing the architecture. Can't wait to see your version!


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3/20/2006 3:09:16 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
 
 
 
Well, this is what I finally came up with. I think it is a happy medium between brightness, color, and still keep the detail in the cabinets.


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3/23/2006 6:11:36 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
 
 
 
Let me try the upload again


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3/23/2006 6:22:18 AM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/8/2004
 
 
 
Just not my day for uploading. Let me try a JPEG in lieu of a TIF


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3/23/2006 6:32:08 AM

 
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