For nearly 150 years, bloggers have tried to capture beautiful interior photographs to share their homes and DIY projects with the world.

via Minerva's Salon

As an example, I've borrowed a photograph from the Victorian blog Minerva's Salon in which she talks about her new gallery-style installation of paintings.  Notice the reflection of extremely bright light being reflected in the mirror.  If Minerva, had controlled the light coming from the windows, we might have a clearer view of her salon wall.  We can learn a lot about photographing our homes from Minerva's mistakes.

  

Back in July when I took the photos that I knew I'd be submitting to Better Homes and Gardens, I shot the photos over the course of three days when the light was best.  In the morning, the sun shines directly in to the garden side of the house; in the afternoon, it shines in from the driveway side. I found the rooms looked brightest during the few hours when the sun was directly overhead and the light was bouncing off each of neighbors' houses.


This photo of the dining room was done about noon when the sunlight was bouncing off my neighbor's house.  It does make for a nice bright room which was really necessary to capture the dark background of the shelves but you'll also notice that the window mullions and tops of the pillows are overexposed.


Around the same time, I also started playing with my shutter speed.  Whenever there wasn't enough sunlight to capture the photo I wanted, I would try slowing my shutter speed to get a brighter photo.


So fast forward to the day of the photo shoot.  It was a dark, gray day and when the photographer and his assistant arrived, I mentioned that I was bummed that the day was so gray.  No, they said, this is the perfect day for a photo shoot.  The object to good photos is controlling the light.  A sunny day makes that much more difficult.  If the room is dark, the camera lens is left open longer to get the quality of light they're looking for.


On the second day, in fact, the sun came out and made the dining room shots problematic.  To cure this,  two different gels (I think that's what they're called) we placed over the outside of the window.  The first layer was similar to wax paper.  It blocked the direct sunlight but dispersed the light more generally around the room.  The second layer was a clear, dark gray film (similar to tinting you might put on your car windows) that reduced the amount of light coming in to the room.


I wish I had a photograph of the gels over the dining room window on the outside of the house but you can see the light in the dining room is much dimmer than the light coming in through the door in the kitchen.  Even though the sun is shining directly in to the dining room, the gels are controlling how much is coming in.  You can see in Trina's Country Living shoot how they controlled the light coming in to her house...even when the window was under the porch.

In my next post, I'll put some of this knowledge to the test.  I doubt anyone is going to buy light filters to hang outside their windows but with a tripod and few camera adjustments, you can put away the flash and take still create a little sunshine on the cloudy day.

 
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