It has been dark, dreary, rainy, and snowy the last few days, which means I have been forced to stay indoors. Okay, FORCED is a rather strong word. But I am just not one of those photographers that brave the elements–ESPECIALLY the cold. So I choose to photograph indoors.
Though not a comprehensive list, here are a few of my tips for photographing indoors.
1) Look for areas of good light inside your house. In other words, you are looking for windows or large glass doors. I use north and south facing windows the most (photographers swear by north-facing windows), but any window can be used depending on the time of day. For instance, an east-facing window will be flooded with direct sunlight early in the morning. Direct sunlight isn’t ideal for photographing with. However, that same window in the afternoon will have a much softer type of light. The opposite would be true of a west-facing window. The light your windows receive will also vary with the seasons. Look for great pockets of light in your house and use it to capture some great photos.
2) Don’t be afraid to increase your ISO. I used to be, but am not anymore. All the pictures in this post were taken at ISO 400 to 1600 depending on how close we were to the window. Some do have some grain. Is it distracting? No! Would most people even notice? No! Test out your camera and see how it handles higher ISOs.
3) Get a good exposure. This goes hand in hand with #2 above since getting a good exposure indoors will ususally mean increasing your ISO. Don’t just underexpose because you are afraid to keep increasing your ISO. Set you camera settings just like you would if you were photographing outside. Getting a good exposure will help you decrease the amount of grain that is in your photos. Think that you’ll just lighten the photo a little when you develop it? Think again. Lightening an underexposed photo using Photoshop or Lightroom will only accentuate the grain. Those programs handle overexposed photos MUCH better than underexposed photos. For this reason, I would much rather my photo was slightly overexposed than slightly underexposed but that is a topic for another day!
4) Invest in a fixed focal length lens (a non-zoom lens) that allows you to open your aperture very wide and let in lots of light. If you know that you like photographing indoors a lot, then definitely invest in this type of lens. Just so you know, these lenses aren’t super expensive. A 50mm f/1.8 lens can be purchased for around $100. I use this lens A LOT for indoor and outdoor photos and I have really enjoyed the results I get from it.
5) Use flash when needed. I rarely use my little “pop-up” flash and refer to it as the “flash of death” since it’s results are generally VERY unflattering. However, I would use it if I was desperate. I much prefer using my larger flash (SB-800 Speedlight) when additional light is needed. It’s light can be manipulated MANY ways to get a flattering and natural result. One of the ways you can get a more natural result from a flash are to rotate the head and bounce the light off of a neutral colored wall, ceiling (generally white is best), or window.
Hope these tips for taking photos indoors help you take photos you love even when the weather outside isn’t cooperating !!