When photographing residential interiors, I sometimes use extra lighting to improve the final images. Today, I want to go through how I shot an impossible bathroom and solved my issues with some creative lighting.
To start, here is a frame with just the ambient light. My main issue was that the bathroom was literally surrounded by glass, which meant a lot of reflections, including my own. The bright mirror lights were also not great.
So you can understand the setup, I created the lighting diagram below, with the bathroom floor plan. Keep in mind the two thin bathroom walls (left and bottom) are actually made of glass and the shower on the right also has a glass wall. So that’s literally three out of walls made of glass, plus the mirror! You can see the position of the camera, as well as the two lights I’ll be using.
Given the ambient lighting that you can see in the first image, my goal is to light the bathroom to balance the mirror lights with the general lighting. The only way to light the inside of the bathroom is through the door, where I placed my first strobe and umbrella (the light on the right on the diagram). To remove the reflections in the glass wall, I placed a second light to light the wall from behind (the light on the left on the diagram). My settings were 1/50s, f/8, ISO 100.
As you can see below, the lighting is much better inside the bathroom. It’s balanced and we have few reflections in the glass wall.
However, my second light was creating two huge hot spots in the mirror and on the glass wall on the left of the frame. I needed to fix that in a second frame that I would blend later in post-processing. I moved the outside strobe so it would be behind the bathtub in the composition, which creates better lighting on the mirror and left glass wall.
On top of that, I shot a couple of other frames in which I was lighting specific areas like the sink and bathtub with a speedlight. I also bracketed ambient exposures as a point of reference.
In post-processing, I first blended the two main frames with lighting to get a good base. I then blended in the flash exposure on the sink and I used an ambient frame to brighten the bathtub. I finished with some cleanup and sharpening. You can compare the before image with ambient lighting with the final image below:
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