This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Introduction. The photographing of interiors is, by most photographic workers, considered a difficult task and, therefore, has received little attention, except from the few who have specialized on this particular subject. To illustrate this chapter we have chosen a large variety of subjects dealing particularly with all the various conditions of lighting and subject material with which the average photographer will have to contend. The manner in which these different pictures were produced is described at the end of this volume; therefore, we will not dwell upon this feature, but supply numerous suggestions which will very materially assist you to photograph interiors successfully.
Lighting Interiors Of Residences. In making interior views, generally the question of lighting is the most important consideration. A good rule to follow, at least until you become sufficiently experienced to manipulate the light as required, is to so locate the camera as to have the principal light for the illumination come from one side of, and back of, the camera, and at an angle leading into the view - in other words, directed from the camera instead of toward it.
Dark Interiors. The darker the room and its furnishings, the more direct or broad should be the light employed, while for light interiors and furnishings the more side or cross light should be used. The object of this difference in lighting is as follows: In the case of dark interior furnishings you want to do away as much as possible with heavy shadows, in order to illuminate all portions evenly, and enable you to secure detail in all parts of the room.
Light Interiors. In the case of light furnishings, having the light fall upon the subject more from the side will produce slight shadows and give relief and roundness to the various objects. It will not always be possible to have the light enter the room at exactly the angle desired, but as the angle of the light is constantly changing throughout the day there will be times in the day when the light gives better results that at others. For the very best results one should observe the light conditions and make the picture when the light enters at such an angle as to give the most pleasing effects, making the best of the prevailing conditions.
Diffusing Strong Light. If the light is extremely bright, as will be the case when the sun is shining strongly, a piece of cheese-cloth, or similar thin material, may be placed over the windows, to diffuse the light evenly throughout the room. This diffusion of the light will supply more even illumination throughout the room, thus permitting of shorter exposure. To over-diffuse will result in flatness. There should be some sparkle and snap to the light, so exercise care that you do not over-diffuse.
136. Observe the very effective lighting of the room shown in Illustration No. 16. All the illumination here comes from the side and in front of the camera, as will be clearly seen, yet even the deepest shadows contain detail, while the high-lights are not at all hard. Owing to the large surface to be covered and in order to have all parts sharp, a small stop was necessary, yet the picture is not at all wiry.