Random thoughts on photography

Creating Great Indoor Photos


Many people complain about inconsistent results or disappointing results when taking photos indoors.  Many times the images are underexposed or blurry and at other times they look as though they were shot in an expensive Hollywood studio.

The answer is lighting.

In order to get consistently good photographs, we have to understand lighting and how to control it and manipulate it to get the results we desire.  In the photograph below, we can see that the lighting is primarily from the left, but we still have detail and contrast on the right side of her face.

In this set-up, there was a lot of natural light coming through some large windows on the left giving us a nice soft “main” light.  On the right there was a light coloured wall that reflected the light perfectly onto the right side of the model’s face.  The fact that she was not lit exactly the same on both sides gives definition to her features and depth to the photo.  There was plenty of light to get a proper exposure without sacrificing on shutter speed, since this was done without the aid of a tripod for stability, so we needed to use a fairly fast shutter speed (above 1/100th) in order to avoid blur or movement in the finished product.

We have to be aware when using a camera that is in automatic mode that we do have enough light.  Sometimes we think there is lots of light, but when the camera “looks” at the scene it will slow the shutter speed down in order to get enough light through the lens to make a proper exposure.   This can make for a blurry photo if we move the camera at all during the exposure.  Sometimes just the shutter shake can make the difference between crystal clear and blurry.

This was a situation where the light was ready-made and already in place for the photo.  We just had to wait for the right time of day, adjust the shutter speed and f-stop and ask our model to smile!

Sometimes we have to use a reflector, or another light, or perhaps even position the model or move the camera in order to get the lighting conditions that will yield the best results for the image we are attempting to capture.

Remember though, that when we add reflectors or more artificial lighting to the scene that we have to be careful of the colours of the reflectors and the type of lighting we add.  White reflectors such as a poster board, white paper, a bed sheet etc will reflect the colour of the main light.  A black reflector will absorb the light and reduce the amount of light “reflected” back.  And a coloured reflector will add that colour to the photograph.

When using artificial light, be sure to adjust the white balance on your camera for the type of lighting.  If the light is primarily fluorescent, your photos may have a greenish tinge if you don’t adjust your white balance to fluorescent.

We’ll talk more about lighting, white balance and ISO in another issue.  In the meantime, work on controlling the light when taking indoor pictures and have some fun making some memorable photos.

Also, don’t forget that even though summer is only just ending, Christmas is not that far away.  If you want some great professional photos to add to your cards this year, give us a call and we can discuss our packages with you.

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