Shooting Interior Designs with an iPhone vs. a DSLR

by | 1 year ago

Interior design photography is its own world and has lots of rules. It’s not always easy to get it right, but at least you need to know the basics in order for your clients to show the best side of their properties so they can promote them. In this article, I’ll show you how to retouch interior design photos not only captured on a Sony DSLR but an iPhone, as well! 

First, here are some tips to shoot with an iPhone:

  • Launch the Lightroom app and tap the camera icon to use the in-app camera. 
  • Set it to Pro mode next to the shutter button. 
  • Tap the file format, and flip the switch to DNG so you capture RAW files. 
  • Use the lowest ISO setting depending on the light situation. 
  • Tap the three-dot icon, tap the stopwatch icon, and set the Timer to 2 seconds. 
  • Make sure that you shoot straight to avoid distortions.

The same basic principles apply to shooting with your DSLR:

  • Shoot in RAW. 
  • Shoot at the lowest possible ISO. 
  • Use a tripod, if possible, to avoid distortions and to allow you to shoot at lower speeds in low-light situations. 

Retouching RAW DSLR Photos in Lightroom Classic 

We’ll begin with a couple different images taken with a Sony a7R III. 

Example #1 

Step One: Let’s start with the basic retouch in the Basic panel. We set the highlights to –100, the shadows to +95, the Blacks to –14, and the Whites to +50. We also added some Contrast by setting it to +48 and lowering the Exposure to –0.45. 

Step Two: You can select different options for the white balance (WB), but in this photo, we’re going for Daylight, which is a bit too warm. We’ll fix that by setting the Temp to 4549 and the Tint to +21. 

Step Three: To make the light more complex and make your interior photos more interesting, use the Adjustment Brush (K). In this example, we set the Exposure to 0.90 to brighten areas of the image, and set Clarity to –17 to slightly soften those areas, as well. Make sure that the Flow and Density are both set to 90 in the Brush section. Now just brush over the highlights in your photo to make them brighter. In the image shown here, we have the Show Selected Mask Overlay option turned on below the image preview so you can see where we painted. 

Here’s the result for this Sony shot:

Example #2

Step One: For this image taken from the opposite side of the room, we opened up the Shadows all the way to +100, brought down the Highlights to –100, and set the Blacks to –23 and the Whites to +27. We also added some Contrast (+32). 

Step Two: White balance is the same concept as used in the first example above: Set it to Daylight and then you can modify the Temp (4723) and the Tint (+20). In this case, we lowered the Exposure to –0.40 so the Adjustment Brush in the next step will help the highlights stand out even more. 

Step Three: As promised, let’s add an Adjustment Brush boosting the Exposure to +0.90 and lowering the Clarity to –34. You can now paint over some highlight areas to enhance them. 

And here’s the final result:

Retouching RAW iPhone Photos in Lightroom 

Now let’s take a look at how to retouch an iPhone photo in the cloud version of Lightroom. The following images were taken with an iPhone 11. 

Step One: Let’s start with the basic retouch, which is similar to the retouching we did with the DSLR images above: Open up the Shadows (+100) and bring down the Highlights (–40). Note: Don’t bring down the Highlights to –100, because it may have a weird effect on some of the lights in your images. We opened up the Whites to +40, lowered the Blacks to –18, and then set the Contrast to +28. You can lower the Exposure a little as well (–0.86 here). 

Step Two: For the White Balance, you can pick Daylight again, depending on the time of day you took the shot. Here, we also tweaked the Temp to 4422 and Tint +25. 

Step Three: As with the DSLR image, the magic touch for interior design photos is the dodge-and-burn technique using the Adjustment Brush. In this example, we took a small brush, boosted the Exposure to +1.28, lowered the Clarity to –43, and painted along the areas where we wanted to bring more attention. Again, we’re showing you the mask overlay so you can see where we painted in this image. 

Here’s the result. As you can see, you can really get some great photos with just an iPhone as long as you shoot in RAW! If you want to print an architecture photo, however, go with a good DSLR camera like the Sony. 

Retouching JPEG iPhone Photos in Lightroom 

I want to show you another example, but this time using a JPEG photo taken with the iPhone. 

Step One: We’ll start with the basic edits first: We opened up the Shadows to +100, brought down the Highlights to –55, and set the Blacks to –19 and the Whites to +58. We then added some Contrast (+34) and boosted the Exposure to +0.14. 

Step Two: Notice that there’s a lot more noise in the shadows when shooting in JPEG. 

Step Three: For the white balance, you don’t have as many options because you’re working with a JPEG and not a RAW file. When you shoot in JPEG, the camera “bakes in” the white balance setting, so when you look in the White Balance drop-down menu in Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, the only choices you have are As Shot, Auto, and Custom. Since we can’t select Daylight in this instance, as we did earlier, we’ll set the Temp to –10 and the Tint to +7 to get the white balance we want for this image. You can even lower the Vibrance (–10) for a better white balance. 

Step Four: The final touch to bring your photo to life is to dodge and burn using the Adjustment Brush. For this image, we boosted the Exposure of the brush to +1.24 and lowered the Clarity to –36. Now brush over different parts of the photo as we did in the previous examples. 

And here’s the final result: 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the comparison of editing images from a DSLR vs. an iPhone. If you do shoot with an iPhone, remember to shoot in RAW so you have more freedom when it comes to developing your photos.