Shooting interiors can be tricky, precisely because they seem so easy. Heavy equipment isn’t an issue. You have full control over lights. You can (usually) re-arrange items in the room to suit your eye. But that all-encompassing responsibility can feel overwhelming. Where should you stand? What should you look for? How should you control the light? In the following video, Doug McKinlay offers nine tips to improve indoor shooting:
McKinlay is using a Canon 5D Mark III with two prime lenses and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. No external lights—just a reflector and wide-open windows—but a sturdy tripod is a must.
1. Get into a corner. This will make the room look as big as possible, and it offers a good vantage point to spy whatever’s inside. But be sure to try every corner first before actually settling in to shoot—some will have better lighting or offer better views.
2. Organize the space before shooting. If there’s a chair in the way, move it. If a vase would look nicer in the corner of your frame, put it there. Obviously this isn’t possible all the time, but feel free to play along with the items in a room as any artist would—just be sure to put things back when you’re done.
3. Light up the place. Turn on all the lights to provide as much as possible, and keep the windows open. (Unless the drapes are nice or you’re going for the opposite effect.) This helps keep the space open—why bring in outside lights when they’ll just clutter things up? Another good idea is to shoot RAW (in case you don’t usually), which makes it easier to adjust the light later.
4. Keep lines top-down. Generally, with interiors, lines running up and down the frame give a nicer image of height and distance. Look for lines within the room and use them.
5. Always use a tripod. The heavier the better. You’re not hiking with the thing, after all. Sturdiness and precision are key.
6. Control your aperture. If a background isn’t working, get closer to what you’re shooting and open up your aperture to blur out whatever’s behind it. Don’t settle for what’s there—remember, the room is under your control.
7. Get high. Use staircases, higher floors or bring a stepladder. A wide-angle lens is usually best complemented by a unique angle.
8. Post-production is your friend. While it’s obviously best to try and get as much right in-camera as possible, post-production is inevitable and often helps spice up indoor shots when colors don’t look as vibrant as they do outside. Especially when working with extreme highlights and shadows, as indoors lend themselves to, you’ll need to balance out everything in Photoshop or Lightroom afterward.
9. Just keep shooting. Take chances, try new things. The best way to learn is from experience.
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