Tiny Kitchen? Think Outside!

            So many photographers struggle with tiny rooms.  First, you have make sure enough of the room is seen.  Then, you need to light it, and not have any of your lights in the image.  This can be frustrating; so many photographers just slap on the Canon 17mm t/s and HDR it. 

            Sounds like a great idea.  The Canon 17mm is a super wide lens, and you cannot have any lights in the image if you do not use any.  However, the 17mm stretches and distorts the space, and relying solely on ambient light often produces a flat image without texture.  So, to avoid this, I move everything outside. 

            The image above is of a tiny kitchen (about 6 x 8 feet) I captured for Country Homestead.  To get this angle, I placed my camera in the living room and used my Schneider 35mm (about a 25mm on a full frame DSLR).  Now, it did take me about 10 minutes to position the camera, but at the end, I had a composition that illustrated an overall view without distorting the cabinetry.  Next came my lighting. 

            My main key light was a Profoto Magnum reflector placed outside, and, since the room was so small, it helped brighten up the entire image.  

            For fill, I placed a 2 x 3 foot soft box in the kitchen to the right.  (You almost always have space for one light in the room, even if you need to boom it in.)  For a little more pop, a second fill was placed outside coming in through the house entry on the right. 

            This worked well, now it was just a matter of straightening out the camera a bit and cleaning up the image a little in post.  Check out the lighting progression in the gallery to the right. 

            For a detail, we then moved the camera to the house entry looking in.  Compositionally, we once again were able to show a view of a built in china closet without distorting it.  Lighting wise, it remained similar.  We moved the Magnum reflector to aim further into the kitchen and adjusted the soft box to avoid a reflection.  We also lit the living room, helping to draw the eye in. 

            As you can see, photographing a small room can easily be done right, so long as you think a little outside the box.