Hello hello, hope you all are staying warm amidst the storms! I hinted in last week’s article about better brighter blog photos that I would be bringing in some friends to back me up in my explanation that you can achieve better interior shots by pulling more light into your lens with the manual functions on your camera. Well, well, that day has come!
I gave all four blogger photographers a mini assignment. Shoot for me the same image 1) with a flash, 2) on Auto with no flash, and then 3) in a Manual Mode, adjusting your aperture or f/stop, shutter speed and/or ISO setting. (My brief definitions here.)
Please welcome four of my favorite bloggers, who just so happen to have excellent photography skills, and are here to offer some fabulous tips for you! Settle in with a hot cup of coffee or tea on this blustery day, and hear what they have to say.
Mrs. Limestone of A Brooklyn Limestone in Progress:
“If there is one thing I repeat a lot on my blog it’s this: cameras don’t take good photos, people do. It is essential you get to know your camera and some of what it can do to make great photographs. It might seem daunting at first but it’s worth the effort. Let’s use an example of this trio of vintage cameras. Apropos, no?
The first shot is with the camera set on Auto with the flash turned on. I shudder just thinking about it because if there is ever a way to ruin a photo, it’s with on camera flash. Take my word for it – never ever use it and you’re photos will be so much better without doing a thing.
See, not so good. So let’s try it again, this time with the flash off.
So much better, but not quite right. I will be the first to tell you that the AUTO function (always with flash off) is pretty darn handy. It makes for lovely photos 7 times out of 10. That’s because nearly all cameras are quite smart in that they figure out how to get a good photo without any effort on the photographers part. Particularly wonderful when you are trying to capture an image quickly and don’t have time to fiddle. But sometimes there are outside influences that fool your camera and that’s when using the manual controls come in.
In this case, the cameras were placed in the middle of the room in front of that tree that just happens to have some bright windows behind it. So the tree was being better lit than the subject of the photo itself. If you look closely at the image above, the vintage cameras are a bit darker than they should be. So I changed the settings to correct the image.
I upped the exposure a tad to +0.3, brought the aperture up a bit to 6.3, shutter speed to 1/15 and adjusted the white balance to account for the light in the room.
Ah, much better.
Thanks again to Kate for having me participate. If you would like to know more about me or see some of my projects, stop over and visit me at my blog Brooklyn Limestone.”
JJ of The Blah Blah Blahger:
I shoot with a Canon 5d Mk2. It does not have a built-in flash, so I had to mount an external just for Kate’s assignment! I rarely ever use it unless I’m shooting a wedding because my camera has such amazing low light capabilities. But for Kate, I did it anyway!
Flash On, Aperture on Auto at f/4; Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec; ISO 400.
Auto, no flash. Aperture: f/1.6, Shutter Speed: 1/30, ISO 200
Manual Mode, no flash. Aperture: f/1.4 Shutter Speed: 1/320, ISO 2500.
“Here’s what I love about the manual shot: I can control the depth of field with the f/stop and achieve great bokeh [blurred Christmas lights]. I can also control the sharpness (higher shutter speed means no blur), and now this image is something I created. It’s my work and not the camera making choices for me.”
Awesome JJ, thank you!!!
Sarah of Clover Lane:
“I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve shot in Automatic because once you learn Manual it’s SO easy. Dial UP the ISO and dial down your aperture. Indoors, in my older home, unless it’s a sunny day, I almost always have to shoot with a higher 600 ISO, because of the lack of natural light. To steady the camera, I have learned to lean on something or set the camera on a table or a pile of books so I can dial my aperture down really low.
Usually the ideal shutter speed would be around 1/125. I recommend you use all the light sources you can drum up. Open those blinds and curtains, turn on all the lights! Every house has the perfect places for beautiful light, you just have to find it! In our home, it’s the corner of our dining room in the afternoon or in our big bay window in the morning.”
Sarah’s shots in Flash and Auto (no flash) mode:
In Manual Mode with these settings: f/stop 4.0; shutter speed 1/25; ISO 1600.
“I shoot with a Canon Rebel XSi, and use the 5.6 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. Another great little lens I use for close-ups, and that really pulls the light in during low-light conditions is the Canon 50mm 1.8. The best thing is that it’s only $100! It also takes beautiful portrait shots.”
You can see more of Sarah’s family and photography on her blog Clover Lane !
Layla and Kevin of The Lettered Cottage:
“Our #1 tip for those who are shooting photos of their homes is to invest in and use a GOOD TRIPOD! Especially those who have low light situations. Then, by adjusting your settings in Manual mode, you can take a super-bright photo of a space on even the darkest and dreariest of days!
When we went tripod shopping, we bought the best pair of legs we could afford, along with the best head we could afford to top it with. We knew we’d want to take both horizontal and vertical shots, so we made sure the one we chose could both ‘pan’ and ‘tilt’ with ease. After that, we used a quick release plate to attach our camera to our new tripod.
We shoot with both a Canon 30D and a Canon 7D, but it’s not really the make and model that’s important. It’s really all about your settings once you mount that thing to a good tripod!”
Layla & Kevin’s Manual setting: F/Stop f/4, shutter speed 0.60s, ISO 200
“With a steady tripod, you can adjust your ISO (lower ISO = a sharper photo, higher ISO without a tripod = a more grainy photo), your aperture and shutter speed to allow a ton of light into the camera, which will create a nice, bright shot. The photo above would be blurry if you didn’t use a tripod because it would be impossible to hold the camera perfectly still as long as the lens is open at those settings.”
Bravo and and BIG thank you to Mrs. Limestone, JJ, Sarah and Layla for taking the time to share their tips on better interior photography ! I’m so inspired by all four of them, I hope you are too!! Here are three more of my favorite sites for great photography tips and inspiration:
Isn’t it amazing the difference you can make just by altering your camera’s settings? For those of you just moving beyond the Auto setting, are you having that ‘Aha!’ moment? Those of you with experience with manipulating aperture, shutter speed, etc. do you have a tip to share? Please do !