Indoor photos are dark even with flash

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by RBCONDO, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. RBCONDO
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    RBCONDO New Member

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    I'm a realtor in Rehoboth Beach Delaware.
    Unlike 99% of the local realtors who use crappy point and shoot cameras for their home photos I use a Nikon D70 with a sigma 10-20mmD wide angle and a Nikon SB 800 speedlight.

    My exterior photos look great. I usually just use the auto landscape setting.

    My interior photos however usually come out very dark and I have to really crank up the curves in Photoshop to make them look ok.

    Can someone suggest a camera setting for better results?

    You can see some of my photos at the following links
    http://www.vtbeach.com/single-family-tours/sawgrass-2/
    http://www.vtbeach.com/single-family-tours/sawgrass/

    These images were taken with the camera set on landscape auto and the speedlight on TTL metering. They have been somewhat doctored in photoshop but you can still see they are rather dark in places.

    If someone can offer a better setting or setup I would be very thankful, I'm tired of spending 15 minutes on each image in photoshop correcting my original picture taking problems.
  2. gundy74
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    gundy74 New Member

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    dont use the landscape setting indoors. try the shutter priority mode and use a setting between faster than 1/20 second. youve got a good camera and a good flash. you just have to know how to use it. im still learning too.
  3. JIP
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    JIP Active Member

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    Well honestly you are going to spend 15 minutes in PS or spend extra time lighting the rooms. You have alot of dark corners where your cameras meter just can't expose for and still keep the exposure proper for the rest of the room. A second or even third flash could compensate for this and the d70 is setup to use multiple SB800s wirelessly but again this would be more time shooting rather than mor time in PS so six of one half a dozen of the other. Another suggestion wich I'm sure other people can explain tons better than me is HDR wich I think is the combination of multiple exposures of the same scene exposed for differedt areas and combining them in PS but this again is more time in PS and more time shooting so if you are happy with what you currently get and I have to say they are not bad they get the point across at least I would stick with it. A search here will show lots of discussions with HDR here is one.

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=65227&highlight=HDR
  4. highwoodhiker
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    highwoodhiker New Member

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    I agree with gundy74. Using a preset limits the camera to certain aperture and shuttter speed when calcualting the exposure so landscape is probably not you best bet for a close-in indoor shot. The D70 doesn't have an indoor setting so perhaps auto would work better. Or you could try them all in your own home and see which works best. Shutter priority, as long as the speed is not lower than 1/30 to prevent blur from handshake should ensure that there is more than enough natural light along with the flash to give a good exposure in that setting. That's a fairly slow speed for indoor lighting with flash. If it's still too dark doing it this way, simply switch to manual, keep the same speed and use exposure compensation or open up the aperture another stop if possible. If they're still too dark (which would be highly unlikely) then you can choose between using a higher ISO or using a slower shutter speed and a tripod.
    Using extra lighting or setting up a bunch of slave flashes or taking several photos for blending for something so simple as taking a photo of a small room is a waste of time. All that is needed is a long enough exposure time and if it can't be done handheld, then the easiest way is to simply use a tripod. The flash itself should take care of most of the shadows and even if they're still a problem a well exposed photo will take much less time in PP to correct than a photo that is too dark overall.
    No offense there JIP, your suggestions are good ones and I've used both of your suggestions with my own photography but they're more suitable to very large rooms (extra lighting) or when there are far too many stops in an outdoor scene for the camera to record.(hdr) For a small room in a situation where time is money, they're overkill, IMHO.
  5. JIP
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    JIP Active Member

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    Did you look at the pictures? I think a slow shutter speed is already being used there is just alot of different lighting conditions in the rooms I said the pics he took were very acceptable and the only real way to improve them would be pretty much overkill I just did not us that word.
  6. gryphonslair99
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    gryphonslair99 Well-Known Member

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    Shoot in manual mode. Set you shutter speed to 1/250 or 1/500, apeture at about f8 to f11. Set the flash to ETTL and let it do the work. It will compensate for the settings and let you know when it can not.
  7. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Nobody is giving you the right answer. Light from a flash gun falls off at a rate of the square of the subject distance from the flash gun. You can only expose one single plane properly with a flash gun. Everything in front will be overexposed and everything behind will be underexposed. In order properly to light an architechtural interior with flash you need more than one light source.
  8. highwoodhiker
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    highwoodhiker New Member

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    Yes, I see your point. Sorry, I misread your words.
    I agree the photos at the link are very nicely done. I wouldn't even have noticed any shadows if they hadn't been mentioned before I looked at the photos.
    I thought the problem was overly dark photos overall and RBCODO was looking for a way to prevent that at time of capture. The one's in the link are after fixing in Photoshop to get the overall lighting of the photo up.
    To improve the fixed ones even more would require the methods you mentioned, to be sure. In that respect I agree with you completely. And I also agree that as presented, they look just great and don't need any further work.
    I thought you were saying that the only way to improve on the original overly dark photos at time of capture would be to use those methods.
    Again, sorry to call you out like that. Your post was quite clear but my head wasn't when I read it.

    Is that really a slow enough shutter speed for indoors using the built in flash? Or is this with a more powerful add on flash? And I guess an add on flash was an option I never thought to mention.
    Not disputing the accuracy of these numbers at all for the D80 and an add on flash, mind you. I don't have the proper camera to try it myself and I'm just curious about being able to use the built in flash with a shutter speed that high. How low could you go on the ISO with that speed? The reason I ask is that I've only been using a digcam with a rather weak built in flash since going to digital and the apertures and shutter speeds are not comparable to what one would find with a dSLR. I know that with my digicam, a middle of the road aperture and those speeds would never provide enough light for an indoor flash photo even in a well lit room. And due to noise, going beyond 200 ISO on my digicam is quite useless. With a good add on flash, I know it could be done but the flash would be bigger than my camera.:lol:
    Using my digicam to provide suitable manual adjustments that would correspond to what RBCODO could use with his dSLR isn't practical so I was explaining how to get as much light as possible to the sensor to get a bright enough exposure.
    Given the numbers you present, it seems I was way off in my suggestions of how slow the shutter speed needs to be in that situation. It's been so long since I used an SLR and good flash that I can't remember the typical settings used in these conditons. And using my SLR to experiment and come up with suitable settings for RBCONDO would mean taking the film somewhere and waiting for it to get developed, looking at my notes and then probably having to experiment more. Geez, did we really use to do this before digital? No wonder it took so long to learn to use manual controls. I'd forgotten how incredibly convenient digital photography is.:mrgreen:
  9. RBCONDO
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    RBCONDO New Member

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    Wow! I did not expect such a response in such a short period of time! Thank you all for your quick reply. I think I'm going to like it here. (3 post Newbie) I'd love to use a tripod but as a realtor and not a professional paid photographer I have to be in and out relatively quickly. 1/2 hour per house is typical, not 1/2 hour setting up each shot. I like the idea of a second flash and longer exposures. Typically I'll bounce my camera mounted SB 800 off the ceiling and play around with placement till I get a decent looking picture. Where is a good place to put the second flash for indoor architectural photos? I've not done multiple flashes before with SB 800's is it relatively simple to figure out?
  10. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    You put additional lights wherever they are needed to even out the lighting throughout the room. How many and where would depend on the subject. I've never done multiple lighting with SB800's either. I've always used studio powerpack strobes or monolights. I would think it could work with SB-800's, I just have no experience with it.
  11. JIP
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    JIP Active Member

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    I did give that exact answer "use multiple lights" but I qualified that with the fact that he was complaining about having to spend too much time in photoshop but to improve the shots he would have to spend more time on-site so it is a trade-off I still say the original shots are perfectly acceptable and to really get much better will take more time than you really need to.
  12. gryphonslair99
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    gryphonslair99 Well-Known Member

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    DISREGARD MY PREVIOUS POST. I could not access the photo links at the time I read the posters thread and mis-understood the problem. fmw is correct.

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