Balancing Light in Architectural Photography

One of the biggest challenges with architectural photography is shooting interiors. Not only does the space need to be represented well and arranged appropriately, the light sources need to be balanced out. Balancing light consists of taking a range of images to expose correctly for the brightest and darkest areas so that nothing ends up too bright or too dark when the images are blended.

Image exposed just for window - too dark
Rathskeller bar interior detail not colour corrected-1

The 2 images above show the extremes that you sometimes have to go to when balancing light for interior shots. There was a huge difference between the brightness of the exterior beyond the window and the darker shadows under the chairs. 

You will often find that the artificial light used inside properties is a very different colour to the daylight coming in the window. In the image above you can see that the interior lighting is making everything look quite orange. Tungsten lighting has this effect and it can look too strong in photos if no colour correction is applied. However, look what happens if we simply try to correct the floor to a “normal” grey:

Rathskeller bar interior detail blue window - balancing light

You should be able to see that the light coming in through the window now looks rather blue. This is just as undesirable as having a very saturated orange. So, when layering up the various shots, it is important to correct colour and choose an appropriate white balance. I decided that it would be best to keep a little of the warmer feel as that conveyed better the sense of being there. But, I didn’t want it too warm and I didn’t want blue window light. I also didn’t want that bright reflection on the floor as it is too dominant in the scene. So, I shot a variety of images that I could blend in Photoshop to produce this final result:

Rathskeller bar final image - balancing light in architectural photography

You will see that as well as balancing the light in terms of colours I have also enabled all areas to show good detail by not allowing over bright or too dark spots. The bright reflection from the left hand side has gone and the image feels much more balanced. We are left with something much more inviting and true to the experience of being there.

If you would like your interior spaces photographed and edited to a high quality, balanced finish please do get in touch.

© Joe Lenton, Sept 2018

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