Learn how to light the inside of a cube for better interior architectural shots

Jul 21, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Learn how to light the inside of a cube for better interior architectural shots

Jul 21, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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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.

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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.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “Learn how to light the inside of a cube for better interior architectural shots”

  1. John Flury Avatar
    John Flury

    Even interior photography was a full dinner, this video was the dead fly under the table. There is soooooo much more to it.

  2. Casey Braunger Avatar
    Casey Braunger

    Those verticals though…

    These images look like something from someone who hates interior photography.

  3. ZorroRules Avatar
    ZorroRules

    Being level and aware of edge distortion and verticals is important. and then there is the blown out window to consider. Lighting depends on the purpose of the image and shooting on an angle is not always the most interesting shot, sometimes straight on is really best. In fact, the more empty the space the more likely a straight on image may look better, depending. The use of natural light and various exposures and then some form of blending can also yield excellent results. Lighting is quite useful as well for images totally lit, or even blending with natural light. You can mix and match, it all depends on what you are after, how much time you have, how much they are paying, etc. Then how wide to shoot is always an interesting dilemma. I have always found it interesting to zoom in on an image after shooting it so see if there is a more powerful framing. – In the field I may not have time to consider it long enough, so one can shoot a little wide and leave some room to crop la bit later. Of course then there is color balance, DOF and a fabulous amount of details. Interiors can be a lot of work and fun. What if one is shooting adjoining rooms – that gets even more interesting.