9 Helpful Tips for DIY Home Interior Photography (part 3)

Last month in part 2 of this tutorial series we learned how I created the photo below. This month in the final post of this series I'll discuss the specifics of getting the proper exposure for the window exterior. 
Fig 1 - final image with all "paint with light" areas blended in

Note for this tutorial segment I am concerned only with the area around the window. That said, this is the approach I used:

  1. Create a shot that provides proper exposure for the exterior scene. I created this shot of the room (fig 2) at ISO 100, f8, and 1/13 second (recall, I am shooting on a tripod which enables me to use slower shutter speeds). I also set the white balance for the exterior lighting (6300 degrees kelvin).
  2. Create a series of shots where the ambient interior portion of the shot is darker, but use an off-camera flash to light the areas around the window. For these shots (fig 3) I used the same settings as above except I decreased the shutter speed to 1/50 and changed the white balance to 3000 degrees kelvin.
  3. Create another shot exposed and white balanced for the interior (fig 4).
Now, we'll bring these images into Photoshop with each image on its own layer as shown here. In this screen shot note that the only the bottom layer is enabled to show the exterior window shot in "normal" blend mode.


Fig 2 - Showing only exterior exposure image

Next, we will enable each of the five shots where I "painted" the window area with my off-camera flash. Each of these layers are set to "lighten" blend mode. Since only the flashed areas are lighter than the bottom most exterior shot, Photoshop blends the light painted areas of each of these into the exterior shot. This results in the immediate window area AND the exterior having roughly correct white balance and exposure. 

Fig 3 - Enabled series of "painted with light" images using lighten blend mode


Now we are ready to add in the room's interior ambient shot and blend it with the above composite to brighten part of the rest of the room.

Fig 4 - Enabled top layer which is interior exposure shot using lighten blend mode and rough layer mask

Note that I'm using "lighten" blend mode for this top-most layer too. so that only the lighter areas of that image are added to the previous composite.  I added a layer mask to the top layer and put a really loose mask over the window area to get rid of any contribution to it made by the top layer.

The composite in fig 4 was really an intermediate point in the overall project. There are many areas in the image that are still too dark or flash burned. After the above steps, I did the following (for which I won't bore you with the details):
  1. Masked out the flash burn areas and the places in the window where some blue from the exterior is showing through.
  2. Added and blended the other flash photos where I painted light around areas like the end of the billiard table, the wall photos, cue stick rack, etc. using the technique discussed last month.
  3. Adjusted overall exposure, contrast and saturation to a look that was pleasing to me.
  4. Sharpened the final image.
Well, that wraps this tutorial. I hope it has been helpful for you. Leave comments or email me if I can provide additional insights.

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