Stately Home Interiors by Alpha Whiskey Photography
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Stately Home Interiors

  • Jul 31, 2018
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  • 25 Photos
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Stately Home Interiors

A somewhat intriguing departure from the small clique of scale model clients or those wanting help with their travel photos, interior photography adds to the ever eclectic mix that I am grateful to enjoy.This post won't presume to offer any instruction but merely a flotilla of ideas using examples below from a number of stately homes and historical properties. 

Jul 31, 2018

Stately Home Interiors

This post has 25 photos Jul 31, 2018Comments (6)748 views
A somewhat intriguing departure from the small clique of scale model clients or those wanting help with their travel photos, interior photography adds to the ever eclectic mix that I am grateful to enjoy.

This post won't presume to offer any instruction but merely a flotilla of ideas using examples below from a number of stately homes and historical properties. 
Unlike real estate photography, which seems to want to homogenise the lighting while making everything appear clinical and sterile, these stately homes typically have their own characteristic and practical lighting. It is invariably unique to each room with pockets of (usually warm) light emanating from carefully placed lamps or chandeliers. The windows often have screens to block out harsh light lest it has a detrimental effect on fabrics. But this also precludes harsh contrasts between dark interiors and bright daylight allowing one to photograph at any time of day without resorting to bracketing or garish HDR. 
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Unlike real estate photography, which seems to want to homogenise the lighting while making everything appear clinical and sterile, these stately homes typically have their own characteristic and practical lighting. It is invariably unique to each room with pockets of (usually warm) light emanating from carefully placed lamps or chandeliers. The windows often have screens to block out harsh light lest it has a detrimental effect on fabrics. But this also precludes harsh contrasts between dark interiors and bright daylight allowing one to photograph at any time of day without resorting to bracketing or garish HDR. 

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In the instance of harsh window light I usually expose for that (especially if I'm a mere visitor and have limited time) with one shot exposed for the room and then layered in post. Or I may simply bring up the shadows slightly in the darker image, allowing the light to be the story, just touching on the space to give a sense of its contents. One could also use a flash but I tend to avoid that to maintain the natural light in the room and also because many of these places prohibit the use of flash to protect the fabrics and artwork.
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In the instance of harsh window light I usually expose for that (especially if I'm a mere visitor and have limited time) with one shot exposed for the room and then layered in post. Or I may simply bring up the shadows slightly in the darker image, allowing the light to be the story, just touching on the space to give a sense of its contents. One could also use a flash but I tend to avoid that to maintain the natural light in the room and also because many of these places prohibit the use of flash to protect the fabrics and artwork.

Jul 31, 2018
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Alternatively, I don't mind the exteriors being a little blown out in the windows, inhibiting their distraction and allowing the viewer to focus on the interior space. 
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Alternatively, I don't mind the exteriors being a little blown out in the windows, inhibiting their distraction and allowing the viewer to focus on the interior space. 

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It's not all about getting the whole room in with a wide angle lens. Most of these properties have a plethora of ornate furnishings that lend themselves to close-up isolation. Instead of the entire room, maybe focus more intimately on a desk or chair or a set of sofas, which all tell the story of the space as much, if not more so, than the wider shots.
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It's not all about getting the whole room in with a wide angle lens. Most of these properties have a plethora of ornate furnishings that lend themselves to close-up isolation. Instead of the entire room, maybe focus more intimately on a desk or chair or a set of sofas, which all tell the story of the space as much, if not more so, than the wider shots.

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In terms of framing,I tend to look for a cosy or slightly confined space to enable the viewer to imagine themselves sitting, standing or even lying there. 
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In terms of framing,I tend to look for a cosy or slightly confined space to enable the viewer to imagine themselves sitting, standing or even lying there. 

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While the entire room can undoubtedly be impressive, a tighter shot with more discernible content will provide a greater sense of the place. 
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While the entire room can undoubtedly be impressive, a tighter shot with more discernible content will provide a greater sense of the place. 

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Dining rooms are a particularly good example of this, showing not just the scale of the room but allowing the viewer to rifle through some of the details such as the crystal and glassware. 
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Dining rooms are a particularly good example of this, showing not just the scale of the room but allowing the viewer to rifle through some of the details such as the crystal and glassware. 

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I tend to err on the side of warmth when processing for these types of properties, adjusting the white balance accordingly. Interior spaces, especially if they are slightly confined and claustrophobic, aren't especially inviting if they are too blue and cold. I may even accentuate existing lamp light with selective dodging or a selection brush.
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I tend to err on the side of warmth when processing for these types of properties, adjusting the white balance accordingly. Interior spaces, especially if they are slightly confined and claustrophobic, aren't especially inviting if they are too blue and cold. I may even accentuate existing lamp light with selective dodging or a selection brush.

Jul 31, 2018
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Wide angle lenses are obviously useful but a tighter focal length can force better composition and eliminate clutter from the frame. Fish-eye lenses, used sparingly, can also exaggerate the space.
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Wide angle lenses are obviously useful but a tighter focal length can force better composition and eliminate clutter from the frame. Fish-eye lenses, used sparingly, can also exaggerate the space.

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I won't bore you with the exteriors here (whose often ordinary facades belie their sumptuous interiors). It is only a matter of arriving early to have the entire building to shoot, but there's plenty of subject matter in the architectural geometry and details such as the sculpted masonry and gargoyles. 
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I won't bore you with the exteriors here (whose often ordinary facades belie their sumptuous interiors). It is only a matter of arriving early to have the entire building to shoot, but there's plenty of subject matter in the architectural geometry and details such as the sculpted masonry and gargoyles. 

Jul 31, 2018
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I hope you've enjoyed this little foray into stately home interiors. As ever, the best way to improve is to go out and shoot! 
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Comments

WebsterswayJul 31, 2018 12:38 PM

Exquisitely presented!!! I’ve done a couple of real estate jobs for one of my brothers, the lighting is a nightmare, you’ve done excellent work here...

Alpha Whiskey PhotographyJul 31, 2018 01:03 PM

Many thanks! :)

StephenJul 31, 2018 02:08 PM

Brilliant stuff.Really enjoyed the description on how u approach shooting interiors something that is close to my heart especially of a historic nature.A big thnx

Alpha Whiskey PhotographyJul 31, 2018 02:39 PM

Thank you Stephen! :)

Doreen SlinkardAug 28, 2018 12:39 PM

Captivating! Talented photography at its best. Thoroughly enjoyed my tour, thank you.

Alpha Whiskey PhotographyAug 28, 2018 02:18 PM

Many thanks! :)

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