As with any art form, the quality of light is an essential component in the work, and this is also true when it comes to photography; especially when it comes to Architecture and Interior photography. Whether lighting for hotel photography, residential interiors, or larger architectural corporate interiors, light defines the textures, planes, and atmosphere of the space, and the professional architectural photographer will use light to dim and reveal these features in the space that is being photographed. Light is used to direct the viewer’s gaze to areas of interest, to separate spaces and planes, and to create the illusion that light is flooding the interior. Light defines space! Textures and colors can only be made visible through light and although the trend these days is to photograph in “natural light”, which is just a euphemism for ambient or available light (with little to no additional lighting) In almost all situations, the judicious use of additional lighting makes for much higher quality interior photography.
There’s no reason to have to buy the “latest and greatest” system. My lights are basic Balcar strobes with 2400 and 5000 watt power packs. They are over 25 years old and doing well. I say this because light is just light; what is important is how it is used.
Flash system: I typically travel with 25,000 watts of power (about 7 power supplies and 12 flash heads) and often use all of them. This is not necessary, however, to achieve good lighting. Although my style and lighting setups are generally complicated, a nice effect can still be produced with a much simpler setup.
The advantages with the strobe lighting system are:
a) The ability to dominate or balance with ambient light.
b) The ability to convert the color temperature of the flash head, which is daylight, (5K) to other light sources. that is, fluorescent gold tungsten.
c) The ability to control exposure at shutter speed. This is essential when there is a lot of natural light inside or when you want to capture the outside view through a window.
If one were to have a single lighting system, I recommend a high power flash system with 4-6 flash heads with enough power packs to run them at 1200 WS of power for each head.
Other lighting systems I work with include:
Professional studio lamps If the main light source is tungsten, I’ll use “warm lights” or studio lights.
These “hot lights”, whether spot or flood, are balanced at 3200K so a correction of 1/8 CTO (Rosco #3410) is required, otherwise these lights will appear too cool relative to the rest of the lights. the scene where the lighting is tungsten.
Modeling lamps on my flash heads: To complement tungsten ambient lighting. These lights do not require additional color correction because their color temperature is very similar to that of tungsten lights, especially when the maximum power is reduced. I also like the light quality of the modeling lights – they are directional but not too powerful.
BY bulbs: I also use standard bulbs (30 -75 watt spot and flood Par lights) in inexpensive “work lamp” reflectors. These lights are used to spot and open up small areas and are very useful in helping to create drama and interest. I also use these lights to illuminate building exteriors at night. A good lighting system can be put together very cheaply with these bulbs.
Other light control “tools” I use:
An assortment of umbrellas for “fill lighting.” Big, small, hard, soft, fuzzy and “shot”.
grid points: To focus light for a “spot” effect.
“black wrap” foil: To position the reflectors to control the dispersion and direction of the light; also for gobos: to prevent light from hitting a surface or to prevent light from entering the camera lens and causing flare. The further away from the light source, the more precise the control will be.
Various spread sheets replenish and dim the lights. The further away from the light source, the more diffuse the effect.
ND filters above the lights. ½ stop, 1 stop and 2 stops.
Black Chiffon Material: To put 1/3 or 1/2 of the parasols on top to keep the light from the ceiling or from the sides; also effective when stretched to reduce light from a window or adjoining room.
Flags and mesh “Mathews”: to cut off the light by pointing it out.
Reflective cards: white and silver, to bounce light to fill or reflect or block or subtract light.
Radio and optical slaves: to activate flash packages remotely.
Rosco (Lee also makes these) Light Conversion Gels – for go over the flash heads to convert color temperature:
To color balance flash (5000k) to tungsten (2900k) I use a ½ CTO (Roscosun #3408). (In the days of the movie, the full conversion of CTO Roscosun #3407 was required), but I think with digital the ½ CTO works just fine. A ¾ CTO conversion may be required in some situations (½ CTO 3408+ ¼ CTO 3409).
In a mixed light scene with daylight and tungsten lights, a CTO of ½ to ¼ works well.
In commercial settings (fluorescent or metal halide) I typically use Rosco’s Greener ½ Resilient which, while only half the correction from daylight to cool white fluorescent light, is sufficient for digital media. A fully resistant filter less green (3304) was required in the film days, but it’s too much with digital.
I find that most modern lighting in commercial spaces is considerably warmer than the older standard “cool white fluorescents” so I generally use Rosco ½ Heavy Duty Plus Green Y ¼ CTO (3409) or ½ CTO (3408) to warm the color the most. temperature.
Rosco also makes CC filters for Studio hot lights, but I don’t use them much anymore: To convert 3200 to daylight: Rosco 3202 Full Blue
To convert 3200 to half day 4100: Rosco 3204 Half Blue
To convert 3200 to 3800 Rosco 3206 Third Blue
Lighting is a critical factor in quality architectural and interior photography and should be considered as a key component no less important than composition, color and contrast. Proper use of light maintains proper color balance, reveals textures and colors vividly, and can create a dramatic atmosphere of light that would not be possible if the scene was photographed using only ambient light. Although one could spend a small fortune on lighting equipment, it is certainly not necessary. One can keep an eye out for older equipment on the used market, and with patience, a collection of suitable equipment can be acquired at a very affordable price.