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Mixed Light Question

By randomrubble  
Posting this in the CG as I'd really like some advice on the set of images here.

I'm was asked to shoot some interiors for this shop and while they work well enough as individual images I'd like more consistency with respect to colour. So the question is, how the heck do I get consistent colour with this many light sources?

(For reference, there were tungsten bulbs, energy saving bulbs, fuorescent tubes, the flash that I needed to lift the wood of the cabinets relative to the ceiling and of course daylight at the front of the shop!)

Tags: General Pier Lighting Architecture Green Shop Hastings Arthur Flash and lighting

Voters: debu, cats_123, spaceman

GB Sports Photographer & The Panasonic LUMIX S1


debu 9 India
24 Nov 2010 2:15PM
Lovely set of images.

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SteveCharles 16 2.3k 18 England
3 Dec 2010 4:52PM
Hi Barry. It is difficult mixing light sources and getting consistency from shot to shot, I kind of employ one or a number of the following methods:

Take a custom WB setting, rather than rely on auto or presets. (A piece of plain white paper can be used).

Use a grey card in a test shot that you can then use the eyedropper on in software to set the WB and apply to other shots.

Use ambient lighting of one or as few types as possible, and use flash for fill only. I think the flash is overdone in some of your shots (no. 3 for example) killing the atmosphere.

Change bulbs/use filters to make the light colour temperatures more even.

Use ambient light on long exposures, turning the room lights (eg. ceiling lights, lamps etc.) on for a fraction of the exposure, so they record but don't burn out or alter the colour balance too much. Having the lights on at the beginning of the exposure and switching off after a second or so is easiest I find.

And another thing.. I hate to say it because I'm not an HDR fan, but the 'exposure blending' function in Photomatix is actually very good with mixed lighting as well as exposure, and looks way more realistic than actual HDR/tone mapping.

Obviously the approach taken depends on the size of the space, access to plugs and switches, time available, the actual lighting employed etc. I always start by trying to use as little auxiliary lighting as possible, only introducing it if and when I need it. (I don't use any if I can get away with it).

In this location, I would probably have tried to base the colour and exposure on the ceiling lights, because they are a feature of the shop and lend ambience. I prefer to leave areas in shadow if it looks more natural.
randomrubble 15 3.0k 12 United Kingdom
8 Dec 2010 8:51AM
Thanks Steve, great feedback. The Trust was happy but I know the images ought to be better.

I think the point about introducing as little light as possible is well made. It's the first time I've lit an interior and there were a bunch of other lessons learned about reflections and the like which cost me a couple of the set-ups.

As atmosphere wasn't as important as detail, the critical thing was to lift the wood, but I could have done better and yes No. 3 shows this best. I could have kept all the detail without blitzing it to that extent.

I'll give the exposure blending thing a go and I'll try and take the comments about custom WB on board.
SteveCharles 16 2.3k 18 England
8 Dec 2010 2:45PM
No probs. I'm learning all the time, every interior assignment I do I try a different technique, it's a constant problem solving exercise. I'm trying to be a bit less lazy in my own approach, doing more prep. work like using fabric to mask off unwanted light and reflections.

Another thing I do which I forgot above, if I just can't balance the exposure in one shot is to tackle areas seperately and make a composite photograph. I did that recently for a black mosaic shower in a bright white bathroom!

I've never been very compelled to upload paid work here because I think it's pretty boring for a photo site and there aren't many others into that sort of thing (which possibly explains the lack of response here) but perhaps I'll start uploading some with some explanations of how they're lit and processed, might give you a few ideas, I might learn something too!
DRicherby 10 269 726 United Kingdom
14 Dec 2010 2:49PM
You forgot to click the 'critique' box so this didn't go into the critique gallery. Sad If you like, you can upload it again.

There's nothing you can really do about mixed lighting, except minimize it and work around it using the various methods that Steve suggests. The alternative is to make it work to your advantage: for example, the tungsten lighting in #1 would look particularly warm and inviting on a cold, snowy day. (But do remove the papers taped to the window before shooting!)
spaceman 15 5.3k 3 Wales
9 Mar 2011 10:12PM
The light is fine but it's the dummy with the red hair that makes this picture. She seems remarkably interested in what you're doing.

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