Christophe Buiron was always impressed by the beauty he found in cathedrals and churches — the statues, architecture, stained glass, and paintings inside always intrigued him more than the building’s exterior.
When he started photographing interiors, it was to challenge himself. He also wanted to showcase the inside of buildings that were typically only known for their outer facades.
Recently, we caught up with Christophe, and he shared some of his interior photography secrets with us.
THE CHALLENGE OF LOW-LIGHT SETTINGS
The challenge with being inside buildings, especially cathedrals, is the quality of light, which is often quite low and makes it difficult to get sharp images.
To solve this, Christophe recommends shooting with a wide-angle lens (16-35mm at 16mm) to capture the vastness of a massive building’s interior. That wide-angle lens will have a big aperture — Christophe says 4 is good, but 2.8 is even better. You’ll also want to adjust your camera settings to a higher ISO so the camera can capture at the right speed in darker settings (Christophe usually shoots at 1600 ISO).
Finally, Christophe recommends taking underexposed photos so you can edit the image afterward if necessary.
COMPOSING THE SHOT
After your camera is adjusted to the correct settings, you’ll want to stake out the building or church you’re photographing. Look for the best angles and ways to frame your image, and try different shots. Christophe also recommends waiting for the right moment: when the light is best both inside and out.
CAPTURE THE DETAILS
Since Christophe got a 70-200mm zoom lens, he has been shooting the details found inside buildings more and more often. He finds that his lens gives him access to details his eye cannot see. He tends to point his camera at the unique statues, especially in churches.
EDIT AFTER THE FACT
“I can sometimes spend more than half an hour editing a single photo,” Christophe admits.
When it comes to editing, Christophe relies on Lightroom. He often corrects the distortion, settles the black/white balance, adjusts the light, contrast, and shadows, and increases the clarity.
Editing is a crucial step, he says, especially with digital photography.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
Christophe is out photographing almost every chance he can; he goes indoors, outdoors, on the weekends, and sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s this practice, he shares, that helps him improve his skills.
“It can be useful to take several shots of the same place, with different settings,” Christophe says. “This will increase your chances of getting a good shot! But nothing will ever replace experience and practice. As is often said, we learn from each of our mistakes!”