Twice recently, I have been faced with a situation where I expected to make a daylight interior view at the end of the day, but had to abandon it because the sun was setting directly into my lens. Call it Fate, Murphys Law or whatever. I would like to think I can execute every photograph just like I imagined it. As it turns out, life can take you down a different path.
If you are making interior views and the sun is above and behind some trees or buildings in the window, then the difference between those shadows outside and the mid-tones inside is about 4 stops. For example, my ordinary interior daylight view is exposed at about 1/13 sec f8 at ISO 200. Outside, the sun mid-tone exposure is 1/200 at f 16 (sunny 16). The shadows would be about 2 stops less, or 1/200 f/8. The whole stops from there to the interior exposure would be 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, 1/13. Thus, the shadows outside are just recoverable highlights at the 1/13 sec exposure. To get more information than that in the windows of your photograph, HDR and masking techniques of less exposed variations are needed.
Now, if the sun is setting into the lens through the window, reflections of the sun on the glossy surfaces like the floor or polished granite will be even more overexposed. A hazy summer sky with the sun behind it might be 10 stops or more overexposed! That is much more than can be layered and look good. Fortunately, we are talking about the end of the day, so a solution is near at hand, if you can adapt.
|Sun setting through door lites and upper windows|
Here is my solution:
Wait for the sun to set beyond the horizon and expose at tungsten white balance! I use halogen hot lights but you can also put tungsten gels on your flash units. (We should try that experiment together some time).
|Dusk interior version of photo above-Final|
The dusk interior view is magnificent by comparison. All the details in the interior shadows and highlights are visible. Same composition, but your eyes are trained on the flow of the room. The textures and colors come alive. It satisfies my endeavor: If you are in my customer's demographic, I believe you can see yourself living there.