Architectural photography has never really appealed to me. Not shooting it, at least. I do enjoy looking at it occasionally and there’s some fantastic work out there. For me, an interior is basically just an environment for a portrait rather than the subject itself. But the principles that go into lighting the room are the same regardless of your reason for shooting in it.
This video continues Jay P Morgan’s Laws of Light series. We’ve already seen how to light the outside of a cube. Now we learn how to light the inside of one, to illustrate how we can light a room interior. Light bouncing around inside a room often seems quite complicated. But it’s a lot easier to understand when it’s broken down into simple steps and principles.
The first thing Jay talks about is how to stop your light looking flat. A room is a three dimensional space, and your lighting needs to illustrate this. At its most basic, a room is simply the inside of a cube. Good lighting helps to create clear separation between the walls, floor and ceiling. It highlights where the edges of each are, and gives the shot more dimension.
Don’t just think about where the light sits on the floor, either. The height of the light can have a big effect on how the light presents to the various surfaces. Look at these two images, for example, of a light placed high vs low in a room.
Moving onto a more complex room, like the kitchen, with its various cupboards and appliances gets more difficult. But it’s still mostly just a big cube. The first thing to do, again, is to look at the overall light in the room itself. For this particular room, there’s big double glass doors and a window behind Jay, which gives the flattest, dullest light possible on the room.
Something as simple as placing the camera off-axis to the light provides much more depth and dimensionality to the shot, and makes the room appear larger.
Once the natural room light is set, you can add supplemental lighting where you wish to help augment it. Or you can add them to fake more windows off in other directions outside of the frame. And then there’s the furniture to think about.
Jay says that topic will come in the next video in the Laws of Light series, and is one I’m looking forward to seeing.