Indoor photography is the worst. There’s nothing quite like a blurry yellow and badly edited picture to make your stomach curdle. Not sure what I mean?
Sha-zzaam. There’s an old relic for ya.
Now indoor photos aren’t all bad. Problem is, most of them are. Why? For a few reasons.
- Incandescent lighting. Especially in old house. Ancient yellow light bulbs that might just be from Edison’s time.
- Overhead lighting. Yep. Light from above.
- Few windows.
So my problems all have to do with light. Incandescent lighting makes a picture look really gross. It’s also a low-light situation which means that your camera might just choose not to focus. So now you have yellow and blurry.
Overhead lighting is your foe because it causes shadows EVERYWHERE. And, if you try to shoot your subject from above, you’ve got a bit of a problemo.
Yep. Your shadow.
Therefore you have to shoot your picture like this which never looks half as good.
And because you don’t have many windows, you’re forced to rely on that yellow indoor lighting.
This probably isn’t true for everyone, but even I, who lives in an ultra-modern house with tons of windows and bright white LED lighting have problems.
So we’re going to come up with solutions.
First of all, it is not impossible to get good indoor photos. But it takes a little more work and strategy.
- Turn off the lights. Yep. Out. Zilch. Zero. Pull the plug. Now. We don’t want any yellowness to affect your picture.
- Find a window. A BIG window. One that lets in a lot of light.
- Place your subject in the light source if it’s diffused (cloudy day) or next to the light source if it’s harsh light (full sun). Which means, if the sun is pouring in, put it right next to the rays but not in the rays.
HOWEVER, if you’re up before the sun, or if you’re taking pictures of dinner….you’ve got a bit of a problem again.
Remember this delightful pizza?
It’s an indoor photo. (Though I’m sure you know it is.)
It was taken with overhead lighting and there just about wasn’t any sun up. At this point you just have to be strategic. Shoot your subject from the side. Crank up the ISO in manual (and I don’t mean any petty 400 or 800 – bring it to 1600 or 3200!). And when you edit, you can take down a bit of the warmth.
However, my top advice is to find the biggest natural light source you have and use it. Even if you have to go outside. After I began to realize how awful my indoor photos were I took my backdrops outside and shot everything outside, even when it was 32 degrees. (Now on cloudy days, my photos were all blue, but that’s a different story.)
Now I just shoot everything in my room with the lights off next to the window.
But before I go, I just want to say something else.
One common thing that people who shoot indoors do is they don’t have a good backdrop.
Look who’s talking.
But seriously, a lot of people use their hardwood floor as a wood backdrop.
DON’T. I BESEECH YOU. Hardwood floor is reflective (which is why you have reflections of your light bulbs), it’s generally on a warm tone, and it’s just nasty. (I don’t recommend shooting on carpet either.) Shoot on a rumpled sheet (texture). A large piece of paper. Your fur rug. ANYTHING BUT YOUR HARDWOOD FLOOR.
I’ll talk more about backdrops next time.
So there you have my answer to bad indoor photos!
(This post was requested by Grace and for the record I’m taking requests, so leave a comment or contact me with your ideas!)