Camera calibration for interior photoshoot

Capturing your room and making it look as wonderful as it feels to live in is a challenge for a photographer. That’s because rooms tend to be tricky when it comes to lighting. While rules go only so far in making a good picture, there are some basics that always help in keeping your frame neat and your elements in focus. Let’s look at some of the camera settings you’ll need to capture those enticing shots of your interiors:

The Golden Number

Whatever you’re shooting, it is very important to know what aperture value to set. If you’re shooting in Av mode (Aperture priority mode), the f-stop is the setting you’ll dial in and the shutter and ISO can be accordingly determined by the camera. In case of full manual mode, the f-stop will be one of three numbers you will dial in, and possibly the most important.

Put simply, the aperture setting helps control the size of the hole that will let the light in on your sensor. When it comes to setting the f-stop, remember: the smaller the f-stop number you set (f/4.5, for instance), the bigger your aperture hole and more light will be let in per unit time. If you set a bigger f-stop value (for instance, f/11), the smaller the aperture hole size will be and less light will be let in per unit time.

Why is this so important? Because your aperture size also controls the depth of field in your picture – in other words, which part of your scene will be in focus. This is how it works:

  • The smaller the f-stop value->the bigger the aperture hole size-> the shallower your depth of field. Which means if you set your focus point on the table, the curtains behind will be blurred.
  • The bigger the f-stop value->the smaller the aperture hole size-> the more your depth of field. Which means both the table and the curtains will be in focus.

Sample pictures:

Small f-stop value:

Small f-stop value

High f-stop value:

Big f-stop value

The difference between the above images clearly tells you which setting is more suitable if you are clicking a wide-angle picture of a room. You need everything in sharp focus, hence you keep a bigger f-stop value. We usually set it to f/10. But that also reduces the hole size and you get less light per unit time. How do you compensate for that loss of light? That brings us to the next topic.

ISO

The easiest way to increase light in your picture is to increase the ISO value. Look at ISO as your sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher your ISO, the brighter any ambient/artificial light will be perceived by the camera. But there’s a catch. Increasing the ISO beyond a certain tipping point (ideally, 800) will introduce noise (speck-like particles) in your image. Of course these are not pleasing to the eye. So once you’ve set your required aperture according to the depth of field you need, and you’ve set the ISO at a maximum acceptable limit so as not to introduce any noise, you can control the amount of light on the senor through the last setting, viz. shutter speed.

ISO=100:

IMG_5426

ISO=320:

IMG_5427

ISO=800:

IMG_5428

ISO=1600:

ISO value

Shutter speed

The last setting in the holy trinity of values to be dialled into your camera is the shutter speed. The lower your shutter speed, the more light will be let on to your sensor. The higher your shutter speed, action will be frozen in place and less light would come in. Since while shooting an interior setting, there is no action to be captured, you can let your shutter speed go as low as the light requirement needs it to go. It is always better to have a lower shutter speed than a higher ISO value, since as mentioned earlier, a higher ISO value would introduce noise into your frame. But a low shutter speed introduces the possibility of hand tremors and shakes leading to a blurry picture. This is where the next interior shooting essential comes in – the tripod.

 Lighting

Natural lighting coming in through doors or windows, at times filtered in and softened through curtains, gives a natural and aesthetic look to the space. Try shooting during the golden hours- early in the morning or late in the evening- that’s when the light is best in hue and brightness. Strong daylight during the noon might put your exposure settings in a whack.

While natural light and any artificial lights in the room (for e.g, lamps that you may want to highlight) usually serve the purpose of ambient light, sometimes they may create shadows or dark spots in the room. To eliminate these, we can use an external flash to fill in the shadows, whenever essential.

The scale of effect of the flash can be manipulated using the flash exposure compensation setting or by bouncing off the flash light off the ceiling instead of pointing it directly at the objects in the frame. You can also have a home-made filter to diffuse the flashlight.

Without flash:

Without flash

With flash:

With flash

Metering

Since you want the lighting in the whole frame to be evaluated, set your metering mode to evaluative.

Shoot RAW

When in doubt, shoot RAW. Scrap that! Always shoot RAW!

Why? Because a Jpeg image loses a lot of information in the compression that it deploys while storing the pixels. RAW retains a lot more information captured in the frame. So there’s a lot more scope while post-processing the image. But yes, there’s also the space factor- a RAW image will take up a lot more space on your memory card than a Jpeg. Try switching between Jpeg and RAW settings, and watch how the card capacity of images changes on your camera screen.

Jpeg:

IMG_5434-JPEG

RAW:

IMG_5434-RAW

Most importantly, have fun while shooting your room. Trust me, it shows in the final image!