Sometimes what looks like a lucky shot is really created from experience and learning what works and when. I created this image one evening while walking along the many photographically interesting streets in Siena, Italy. By the way, if you ever get to Florence take a side trip and spend at least a day in Siena.
I say what looks lucky, because of the incredibly balanced lighting. The spot lights aren’t blowing out on the carpets, the ceiling isn’t hidden in shadow and the outside is exposed well. There are few times of day when everything balances out like that; usually before the sun comes up and shortly after the sun goes down. This was shot about 15 minutes after sunset when there was still enough exterior light to give us details on the outside, but not so much as to create a too dark interior. Waiting any longer would have resulted in not enough exterior light, which would make us blow out the interior detail or silhouette the outside. Definitely time for a tripod. Shot at f16 for maximum sharpness and depth of field, this was a 3 second exposure and the small aperture created the star effect on the lights.
I’m a true believer in not putting hard elements in the center of a photo, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Luckily the door frame is black so it doesn’t draw all of your attention and the line of track lights on the ceiling help lead your eye back and into the arched doorway at the far end of the room. Now, I kind of wish I had pulled back a bit and included more of the arch above the door, but that would have meant including the entire door frame. I think that would have boxed in the photo and created a sense of being outside looking in. Instead, leaving the door frame out helps to welcome the viewer into the room.