Confused by indoor photography? We can help! Do you want to learn how to take stunning photos indoors using only natural light?
It’s not always easy to work with natural light when it’s indoors. As a result, I’ll cover a wide range of techniques that I employ in my own photography. In addition, I’ll provide numerous examples along the way so you can put my suggestions into practice!
1. It’s All About The Windows
With indoor photography, there’s a major issue:
Lack of illumination. And, of course, without light, it’s impossible to take stunning photos that are properly exposed.
So, what are you going to do now? Studio strobes and flashes are tools used by some photographers. For this reason, I look for light coming through windows and use it to illuminate my subject, I prefer to keep things as natural as possible.
In fact, once you’ve settled on a topic, take a walk around your house to get some fresh air. Try to judge the softness of the light that comes in through the various windows. Is it a laser beam that enters through the ceiling and bounces off the walls and floors? What would it look like if you used it to light up your subject, then?
If you want a soft glow, use soft light, and if you want a dramatic or moody look, use harsh light.
Keep in mind, too, that the color of the light changes from time to time. At sunrise, the light is warm; at midday, it is cool; and at sunset, it is warm.
Knowing how to use indoor lighting for the best effects will become second nature once you have a firm grasp on it.
2. Turn Off The Lights
Natural light isn’t a fan of having a rival for its attention.
Natural light, on the other hand, does not get along with electric lights, which results in two issues:
Lights from electrical sources can throw off your main window light’s directionality and cast unexpected shadows.
In contrast to the color of natural light, electric lights produce a warmer or cooler illumination.
Skin tones, in particular, can appear off when artificial and natural light are combined.
What’s the quickest and most straightforward way to resolve this situation?
Simply shut off the electricity! You’ll be able to maintain a natural color palette while concentrating on a single point of light.
3. Shoot In Aperture Priority Mode
When shooting in Aperture Priority mode, you have control over the aperture but the camera makes the shutter speed determinations. As a result, you have more control over exposure without going into the dangerous territory of Manual mode.
An A or an AV, as shown below, indicates Aperture Priority.
In other words, what settings should you use for the best results when shooting with natural light indoors?
To get the most out of your camera, start with a wide-open aperture. Keep your exposure nice and bright by using a small f-number, such as f/2.8 or f/1.8.
A wide aperture also means a shallow depth of field. As a result, your subject will be sharp and your background will be soft and blurry. background. Portraits, nature, and product photography benefit from the addition of this filter.
Aperture of around f/5.6 or f/6.3 keeps the entire face in focus for portraits (though this will depend on your focal length and your distance from the subject). Aim for your subject’s eyes when taking photos for optimal results.
Shoot in RAW if you can. When it comes to editing, a RAW file will give you a lot more flexibility, allowing you to achieve stunning results with your indoor photography.
4. Choose Your White Balance In Advance
Some photographers prefer to choose their white balance in post-production (instead of using the camera’s Auto White Balance setting when they take the photo).
Even so, getting the white balance right before taking a photo is often easier (and will save you a lot of time during post-processing).
As a result, switch off your camera’s automatic white balance setting. When taking pictures, pay attention to the light and use a white balance preset that best suits your needs.
For example, when photographing people indoors, I prefer Daylight, but Cloudy would produce a cozier effect. And if you’re looking for a specific result, any of the other white balance presets will do the trick.
To be honest, when you first start out, I’d recommend trying a few different white balance settings to see which ones you like and which ones you want to avoid.
Although it is always important to consider light quality when doing this, it will affect your white balance results). In contrast, when used on shots lit by warm evening light, a Cloudy white balance adds warmth to the image rather than neutralizing it.)
As a final reminder,
Altering your white balance while editing is a last resort if all else fails.
5. Use A Light-catching Backdrop
When I said that indoor settings tend to be dark, remember how true that was?
It follows that existing light must be exploited to its full potential. To achieve this, all you need is a reflective background.
A white background, in particular, helps reflect light back onto your subject by catching and reflecting it. Here’s an example of the kind of setup I’m referring to:
The white material helps cradle the light around the flowers:
The white fabric helps diffuse light around the flowers, making them look more beautiful.
It’s also not difficult to create a simple light-catching backdrop. With a freestanding collapsible clothes rack and a long white material, this one was made.
Setting it up and moving it around is a breeze!
6. Use A Light Box
As with a reflective backdrop, a light box will produce a similar effect, but it allows you to better control the light.
Instead of placing the cloth behind your subject, wrap it around the entire frame to create a light box. For this food still life, I improvised a light box out of some cardboard and newspaper.
And here’s the final image:
7. Use A Reflector
In all seriousness, not only is this one of the most cost-effective pieces of equipment you can buy, but it is also among the simplest to assemble when you need it! Moreover, it’s extremely beneficial! So, how exactly do I go about doing that? Easy!
Get a white poster board or piece of paper that’s completely blank. This is Step 1.
Step 2: Ask someone to cast a mirror image of your work.
Want to cover a larger area? A larger poster board should be purchased! Using blank white paper to fill in any shadows on your subject gives your work a polished appearance. Use some foil to cover that piece of paper if you need something more durable.
Even if you don’t end up with a 5-in-1 reflector (as you could for under $20), you’ll have a 2-in-1 for pennies on the dollar!
You can use reflectors at any time of day or night, and they provide excellent lighting compensation no matter where you are.
8. Use A Mirror
Another great way to manage natural light is to use a mirror.
Simply use a suction cup and a hook to hang the mirror pictured below in the window:
Take a look in the mirror with your model and see how she looks after that. Make sure your reflection isn’t in the photo as you’re taking it. (Getting the angles and reflections under control takes some time, but it’s well worth it.)
For this shot, I used a small, handheld mirror. Cropping would be less of an issue with a larger mirror.
9. Tidy Up
When you have kids, there are always things lying around the house. Clutter in a photograph can detract from the subject matter. Before you start shooting, spend a few minutes cleaning up your surroundings.
For this reason, a simple backdrop serves a dual purpose of both controlling the lighting and concealing any unsightly elements in your background. It’s useful for making a small space more livable and functional.
For the majority of the photos in this article, I positioned myself in front of our largest window after moving our sofa and table into the middle of the room. This location would be far too cluttered if it weren’t for the backdrop.
10. Place Your Subject Close To The Window
In an earlier section of this article, I discussed how important windows are when taking pictures indoors.
However, using Windows alone is insufficient. In addition, your subject must be precisely positioned.
Keep your subject at least two feet away from the light source when taking portraits. By doing this, you will take advantage of the available natural light while also avoiding the stark contrast that comes from being too close to the window.
Here’s one more thing to keep in mind:
Try out different lighting setups to see what works best. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to use different types of lighting, experiment with backlighting, sidelighting, and even frontlighting.
11. Use The Curtains
Unless you can diffuse harsh light, you’ll end up with unpleasant shadows and contrasty subjects.
Here is what I suggest instead:
Use blinds or curtains to cover the windows!
Translucent curtains should completely cover the window. Consider closing your curtains partially if they’re opaque, and then letting the light drift onto your subject.
As an alternative, if your curtains aren’t suitable for diffusing light, you could hang a piece of diffusive material over your curtain rods.
12. Shoot Reflective Objects
With enough natural light, even the simplest of objects (like the condensation on this window) can be transformed into works of art.
Reflective surfaces, in my opinion, look stunning when bathed in sunlight. As an illustration, consider the following statements:
13. Learn How To Position Your Subjects In Indoor Light
Catch lights are created by photographing your subjects with their backs to the light. This soft light will illuminate the entire subject’s face without casting any unwanted shadows.
You can also try pointing your subjects at the light source to see if that improves your results. As the shadows recede from the sides, the photo will take on an interesting depth.
For beautiful backlight and fun silhouette images, I frequently use window lighting.
These looks can be achieved by putting your subject in front of the light source.
14. Choosing The Right Lens For Taking Indoor Photos
Use a lens with a wide aperture range when photographing objects close up indoors (a fast lens). You’ll be able to get better exposures with slower shutter speeds or with more digital noise if you use this technique.
If you’re looking for a fast lens, look for one with an f-stop of 2.8 or less. Slow lenses (those with apertures greater than f/3.5) let less light into the sensor, which is the opposite of what you want. Let in as much light as you can when shooting indoors!
With my 24-70mm 2.8 zoom, 50mm 1.8, or 85mm 1.8, most of my indoor shots are taken.
A 35mm lens would be wonderful to have in my camera bag because the 50mm and 85mm lenses can be a squeeze depending on the amount of room I have.
15. Increase The Iso For Indoor Photos
As a result of shooting primarily indoors, I have learned to embrace grain and raise my ISO settings.
Your camera’s sensor becomes more sensitive to light when ISO is increased. Increasing the ISO will generally result in more image grain and digital noise in the final image.
When using a higher ISO, you’ll find that some cameras can handle it better than others. It was a Canon T3i, and at ISO 800 there was a lot of noise. Now I use a Canon 5D Mark III, which has much better low-light performance than my previous Canon T3i.
My personal preference is for images to have some grain when capturing a raw moment in time.
If you’re still concerned about grain, post-processing can usually fix it. The noise reduction sliders in Lightroom are my preferred method of editing and repairing noise. These sliders allow you to reduce digital noise while preserving fine details to aid in the creation of your ideal image!
16. Modify That Flash
The harsh light can wash out faces, so use a Speedlight flash or the dreaded pop-up flash if you must shoot without a choice. You can bounce the light from a nearby wall or the ceiling onto your subjects when using a Speedlight. Because it produces soft, even light, this technique can be compared to using a giant soft box like those used for school portraits. If you have to use the pop-up flash for some reason, a simple and effective way to soften the light is to place a thin tissue (preferably white) over the flash. Even though you’re stuck with flash, at least it’s soft, and the subject doesn’t have to be paper! If you’re at a theme park like I was, you’ll only have access to a plastic bag. Using the “Manual” mode and a few tries, I was able to make it look decent!