Basic Interior Post Processing

I often get asked by clients and vendors how I process the photos, especially when I'm showing them the results of a shoot on the back of the camera. As far as Photoshop goes what I do is fairly straight forward but I have picked up a few tricks over time...

If you don't know Photoshop bits of this wont make much sense... it isn't meant to be a tutorial, but it should give you a rough idea of what is involved in Post Processing.

Here is a photo from a shoot I did for Peter Schaad last week who is a Design and Decorating Consultant, it contains most of the steps I use when processing.

Step 1. I always shoot in RAW mainly because of the control it gives you over white balance. Most homes have a mix of tungsten, enviro, fluro and daylight in them, all of which have different colors.

I shoot multiple exposures from each angle usually with one image for the shadows (over-exposed), one image as the base image (usually meter-as-read), and one or two images for the highlights (under-exposed, usually with fill flash to light up the window sills and frame).

 These are the four exposures straight out of the camera with no processing. Obviously it is important that the tripod/camera doesn't move at all between each shot and this includes focus not changing.

Notice how the exposures are different, meaning different parts of the images are lit optimally in each.

In this one Peter and I agreed the back wall needed something to give the room depth, there was a painting but no hook, so I got Peter to hold it in the right place and later will place this onto the final image.

So Step 1. is processing these RAW images into jpegs or psds.

 You will notice slight tonal and white-balance adjustments between the above 4 images and these 4. I am thinking about what zones of each image will make it into the final image and making sure these zones will match each other.

For example, Step 2 will be blending these first two images. Notice how the top and RHS of this one is a bit red and over-exposed?
 Where-as in this one the floor and bottom of the tapestry of this one is a bit blue and under-exposed but the top of the tapestry/ light fitting/ ceiling look good.
 Similarly, this one will be used for the window and sills/ frame and even slightly for the floor and RHS wall to add a bit of contrast, (by slightly I mean by adjusting the opacity of that layer so it is slightly "see though".)
Here I have tried to match the wall in image one where this painting will be over-layed.

Step 2. This is image 1 and 2 blended together.

Step 3. This is the above image with the window "zone" dropped in. Because I'm a bit of a drongo sometimes I forgot to include the bit that is in the reflection of the mirror... duh.

Step 4. Here I have dropped in the painting. Selecting around a painting like this is fairly easy, but it is important to include in the selection the drop shadows the frame puts on the wall... with out doing this it looks obviously photoshoopped. This would have been much trickier if the plant on the table had been much bigger because I would have had to select around it too... in this case I just asked Peter to hold it a bit higher up the wall. After placing it there I just had to clone over where his fingers were on the frame.

Step 5. By now I have realized that the window in the mirror needs fixing... again duh... but that wall also needed tweaking so I grabbed a layer from the window exposure again and got it looking better.

Final Image. Here I dropped in the floor from the window exposure again to get rid of the overexposed and blue floor under the window... which meant selecting around the chair legs... usually I try to avoid that but sometimes it is unavoidable when shooting at daytime. I have also tweaked the levels and dodged and burned mainly on the tapestry just to fine tune.

And that is how I do a fairly standard interior... this is just one way of about a million but I hope it gives you an idea of what is done in post production.