I get a lot of questions about my camera and the settings I use. I thought it would be fun to make a list of 10 things I’ve learned along the way to get better pictures.
In the steps below I am assuming you have studied up a bit and know what they are and where to find these settings on your camera: ISO, f-stop (aperture), white balance, light meter, shutter speed. If not, you may need to get out that little manual that came with your camera.
Inside pictures…can be difficult without good light. I once realized that I was finally getting the hang of my camera when I found myself seeking light. Analyzing before (even for a second or two) about where the light was coming from and what kind of light it is. Photographer. Light Seeker.
- Take pictures during the brightest time of the day. With the curtains wide open.
- Place your subject so that they face the window – so that the light is on their face.
- If it is dark out or not much natural light – turn on every lamp or light around.
- Adjust your white balance. If it is in the middle of the day by a bright window I might leave mine on the shady option. Otherwise I go for the tungsten or fluorescent light setting depending on your light source. If you edit your pictures you can always go back and adjust the white balance in the editing part.
- Adjust the ISO – probably 400 + . If I am in my sunny kitchen in the middle of the day I can adjust to ISO to 200. If it is dark outside and I only have table lamps lights then I crank it up. On my camera, the ISO goes up to 6400. But know that the higher the ISO is, the more noise (grain) you get in the picture. So basically trading light for noise.
- Adjust the f-stop (aperture). Again I linger around 2.8. Just remember that the f-stop is also letting light into the camera. If I am in a dark room – night outside with just table lamps I will crank it down to 1.8. Depending on what I am taking a picture of – it is possible I am going to get some blur from the low f-stop.
- Now the shutter speed. Use the light meter and adjust. If the room is well-lit then shouldn’t be an issue to keep it over 1/100 (my preference if using my 50 mm). But again, if it is dark and there are only lamps on…well crank the ISO, lower the F-stop and adjust shutter speed. Hold your breath or get a tri-pod. If the shutter speed is really low (below 1/40 with my 50 mm lens)… well that is usually the time that I figure I am at the max I can do with my camera. Different cameras ($$$) and lens ($$$) would work better in the situation. Or using an external flash (I need one!) is an option. Or you could just say screw-it and turn on the flash that came with the camera. I mean at this point – its dark and you tried, and if isn’t more than a snap shot – then really no big deal – turn on the dang flash. Put the camera on auto and say forget it.
- Try different light sources if you can – candles are cool, Christmas lights…things like that.
- If the picture kinda looks funny (lighting or white balance is night right) but is otherwise a fairly crisp photo, you can always turn it to black and white during the editing part. Even if it is a little blurry – turning it to black and white might help.
- As you move from room to room, remember to adjust the settings on your camera. Even from one side of the room to another. When you look at a room, evaluate the best light. Go for the window first. Lamps second.
One of my recent favorite pictures of Zooey (above). This was taken in my kitchen/eating area in front of a big picture window around 5 pm. She was facing the window – so the light was behind me, but I wasn’t blocking it. I probably didn’t need my ISO at 1600 – could have gone for 800 and lowered my shutter speed. But I didn’t notice too much noise in the picture.
The picture above was taking in the master bedroom during the middle of day. There is a window to the left behind her and one to the right – but closer to the foot of the bed she was sitting on. I opened up the blinds to let in as much natural light as possible and turned on the over head light. Since my shutter speed is lower than I really like to go, I probably could have adjusted my ISO up to have a higher shutter speed.
My living room (above) one of the spots I always have trouble taking pictures! It always seems dark. There is a big picture window behind them that you can see – and the only other natural light is from the front door – but that is a long ways away. So not the best picture in the world.
This is a situation (above) that I probably had my camera set for outside and all the sudden Zooey did something cute and I just grabbed it without much adjustment. You can see she is up against the window – so great if I want a silhouette picture. But I really didn’t. My shutter speed is over 1/100 but my ISO at 200 is pretty low for indoors – at least I think.
I have no idea what I was doing with this picture above. LOL!!! I know I was having issues while we were doing Easter eggs because the room was bright! TOO Bright! And I have no shade. The pink tablecloth with the bright sun was putting off this pink glow in the room. And my setting were really all wrong. I could probably salvage this picture by making it black and white?
This picture (above) was taken the same night. I think the picture could have been a little more crisp…but in this picture Ethan is looking toward the window. Unlike the last picture with the bright window behind. I probably could have had my ISO at 400 and that would have helped.
I must only be showing bad pictures!! EEK! Ok this one (above). Ah so a little fuzzy. Most likely because my shutter speed was low. I could have dropped my f-stop to 1.8, but that could cause blur too since I was taking a group shot. But I liked the picture…so I made it black and white and called it good.
The picture above we were lucky enough to be seated next to windows at Easter Brunch! This is my kit lens.
The picture above my Dad took. We are facing the light of the window. Again using the kit lens.
I hope these tips help you to take better inside pictures. It is something I still am trying to improve on. I do think upgrading my equipment would help in this department. But work with what you go, right?