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The course describes the best ways to light interior elements to show their texture and form, and contains tips on staging rooms to make them more inviting. Richard also tackles the tricky challenges that windows and exterior lighting introduce: how do you adjust exposure to capture interior details without overexposing the windows?
Skill Level Intermediate
Okay, so here we are on our main overall shot. My first choice for this shot would have been to have the sunlight just pumping through and illuminating the room, streaking across with a warm glow, but instead it's raining. So, we are going to get this shot in the rain and the way we do that. Is to light the interior a bit with tungsten, and then let the windows turn kind of a colbalt blue color, but catch them when they're still a little on the brighter side. As the sun goes down and as the windows darken, they get a deeper, deeper, deeper blue.
But in this case, I still wanted to be able to see the horizon. I wanted to see some of the foliage out of the windows so we can connect us to the ocean. So I wanted to shoot it earlier in the sequence. So I've got the camera in position. I've moved the furniture roughly where I need it to be. Everything's looking pretty good in terms of the frame. So now it's time to start lighting. And though its too bright in the room to really see the lighting i'm going to anticipate that things are going to need to be lit.
Okay so the basics are in place. The piano is placed. It looks really good. The lamp is in exactly the right spot. The, the overall framing is good. I'm very happy with the shape that's being made. Dynamically, the camera is a little higher, just, just enough so that we can see the back of the far sofa. And then the next thing will be lighting. So we're going to light the front of the cabinet. Probably going to need to glow a little bit behind this edge on the sofa behind it.
We'll light the chairs. We'll have to light the top of the sofa a bit. And probably put a light behind this sofa pointing at the Eames chair back. So we can really see it. We're going to let the piano completely silhouette. The floor is going to handle itself. These windows are going to become a rich blue. And that's all going to be around on the floor. And then we'll have the tungsten light putting pools of warm light around the perimeter. So I'm keeping in mind that I want my lighting to mimic the architectural lighting.
I'm not trying to do anything overly dramatic with my lighting, I'm really just trying to supplement it a little bit and to add a little bit of shaping. So with that in mind most my light is going to come from above and look down. So this is a really good example of using the longest lens I can get away with. And instead of using a 35mm lens to see all the way across the room, which is very wide on medium format, instead I went with a 55 which is just, slightly wide, so you might think of it as a 35 on a full frame 35 millimeter camera. It's a little bit shorter than normal.
And I did that because I didn't want the trunk in the foreground behind the sofa to become huge. Now, it's a beautiful antique, and it's 100 years old. But it's not really period for the furniture and I didn't really want to call that much attention to it. I wanted to be able to see some of the carving in it so I took a light a spot light for the barn door and directed from above down on the trunk. And when I did that, I noticed that I was getting a shadow off the edge of it on the edge of the sofa.
So I had to readjust that light a couple of times to get rid of the shadow but to light the carving on the front of the trunk. One of the reasons I wanted to be above is I wanted to be sure that the highlights were on the top sides of the carving, which would be a dead giveaway of where the angle of the light was coming from. So in a shot like this where we've got so many lines being formed by the window moulding. You really have to keep a sharp eye out for tangents because they will just crop up. I'll look at the image over, and over, and over again.
And only after I've seen it 20 times while I'm working the sequence will I notice a tangent. And it's really worth stopping, taking a deep breath, and just scanning around the image just to be sure that there aren't any glaring problems. So, as I was lighting alongside where the fireplace is. Lighting the zebra chairs in the background. I normally like to light a chair like that with two lights. One on the back of the chair, and one on the front of the chair, And separate the two rather than lighting them with one light.
And the reason I do that is that it seperates those two planes because I can grade the light up. The light on the front of the chair can go bright and get a little bit darker as it gets to the top. Where rolls over and the back of the chair could be bright right there in that little corner and it can grey and get a little darker as it goes up. And it adds a lot of separation to the chair. And it also solves the problem, many times the arm of the chair will cast a shadow and by separating the two lights, I can have a light that's lower.
Pointed down lower to get the front, and a light that is come from a higher, from above down on the back, and have less, of a shadow showing up. So that's normally the way I would light a chair like that. In this case I didn't have enough lights to really light the whole space correctly, so I decided instead to devote one light to that chair, and one light. Over on the other zebra chair that left me a light to light the top edge of the far couch and the pillow which was really an important thing to illuminate.
I also lit behind the sofa I, I put a And open faced omni light with black wrap on the floor to bounce off the back of the sofa to put a little bit of glow on the eaves here to seperate it away from the sofa so it was a little bit brighter. It's a dark wood and it's going to soak up a lot of light so it's going to need a little something there to help put a highlight on it. Then it was back to the trunk. Now the trunk just soaks up every little bit of light you can put on it, and when I had the light placed where I wanted it, I realized instead of 200 Watt (UNKNOWN), I really needed a 600 Watt (UNKNOWN) to light that thing. I didn't have one with me, so instead.
What I did was I moved my light in closer until it started to light it the way I liked it and then I noticed that my light stem was on frame. So I thought okay why not? So I went ahead and moved the light stand all the way in so that it was completely on frame but I lit the trunk the way I wanted to, to get the detail in the trunk that I was looking for, made a capture of that. Moved the light stand out and then my subsequent captures had to stand out so what I'll do when it comes time to post everything. I'll just take the detail from the trunk itself out of the shot that had the light stand in frame.
All I'm looking for is the detail on the front of the trunk from that. So I'll pick up that detail, and I'll move that, I'll composite that in to one of the later frames where the light stand is not showing. So it's a great way to get around. The sweet thing with digital capture is that we can capture as many frames as we like with no problem, and they line right up in Photoshop. Without any problem at all, so its really easy to mask things together. And I do this all the time, when I've got a situation were I need to light something but I can't either get the angle that I need for it, or I can't get the intensity like in this case that I need for it.
I just let the light show in a frame, I'll pull the light out, shoot another frame without it, and then put those two together later.So, I notice that the windows in the background were reflecting the lights that I had put in, and that's a common problem. Normally what I would do if I could, would be to move those lights so that the reflection actually fell right on the window mullion. So it's right in between the two panes of glass, so we don't see it. If the background is very complicated, meaning that it'd be a difficult patch to remove that reflection later in post, then I would work really hard at getting rid of the reflection by moving the light into the window mullion or by putting black wrap or black cinefoil.
Around the visible parts of the light that are reflecting in the glass. You know, the glass becomes a mirror surface, and it reflect everything in the shot. So you have to keep an eye out for these reflections. In my case, I got really lucky because the reflections were just floating in the rain-swept horizon, and it's going to be a really simple fix to take them out imposed. So I decided not to bother working with it on set. Not to spend any more time on set because it will just a two minute fix in post. So, after I put the omni light in place, the one that's bouncing off the back of the sofa, lighting up the Eames chair.
I realized it was reflecting in two spots in the windows. Two different windows had a reflection. So I knew that that light was going to need to be black wrapped, because the reflections were low and they were in the foliage. I didn't want to have to sit and rebuild the foliage in order to get that reflection out of the window. So I took black wrap and I wrapped it around the bottom up to edges to take away any of the light spilling from behind the fixture. So really all the wrap is doing is it's keeping the light that is not, that I'm not using, not image-forming light, just from reflecting in the windows.
So it's really just a way to block light leaks in the light itself. So I just wrapped it, and it removed those reflections in both windows. Problem solved. So in the case, we had a lot of mixed light going on in the frame. And the windows were allowing daylight to come in, a very cool daylight, a blue daylight really, to come in, which is reflecting off the floor as well. So that light is completely affecting the color of the floor.
We've got warm pools from the tungsten architectural lights lighting down into that blue. So there's a real mismatch of color, but what I wanted to do I noticed that my ceiling was looking a little on the red side so I checked the RGB numbers and sure enough. I had a little more red than I wanted. So rather than take a photograph of a color reference which I've done in the past, instead because the real problem is where am I going to put it? If I put it in directly in line with one of my tungsten lights I know what it's going to tell me.
3200 degrees Kelvin. And if i put it in line with the blue coming in from the window It's going to be really blue. It'll be eight or 9,000 degrees Kelvin. Neither of those are really going to be of any use to me at all, so what I did instead was just balance it by eye by changing the white balance on the computer as I looked out. And I just looked back and forth. And the ceiling is never going to be a nuetral. WIth your RGB numbers, when they line up, when they're like 120, 120, 120, you have a neutral color.
There is no color cast in that at all. And if you're working with an uncalibrated monitor, it's a really great way to know whether you've actually got a black, a white or a gray. Because the closer those RGB get to each other, the more neutral it is. And I used to rely upon that to be able to really judge color in the past, but now we can profile our monitors, and things have gotten much better in terms of color mangement. So that issue's in, in the past. But I still keep an eye on my RGB numbers, looking for anomalies or things that really jump out.
So I went ahead and shot some brighter exposures. And that was the end of the sequence. And we've got the shot in the rain. It's still beautiful. It still works. Even though it's not the shot I initially wanted, I still have a beautiful shot.