It's important to point out first that the best thing you can do for yourself, especially when it comes to taking indoor photos without flash, is to learn your camera inside and out and to be able to confidently shoot in manual mode.
1. Shoot in RAW
If you haven't discovered the power of shooting in RAW format yet, be prepared for your life to be changed forever. Shooting in RAW instead of JPEG gives your camera much more information to work with, which means you are able to push the exposure and shadows, fix highlight issues and so much more in post with ease and without clipping or losing detail. Give it a shot and see for yourself!
2. Test your ISO
Your ISO settings control the sensitivity of you camera's sensor, which means the higher the number the brighter your photos (but the more grain). Take loads of test shots in dark situations with different ISO settings to see what the highest number is that you are comfortable with. Some people hate grain, some people love it so sometimes it just comes down to personal taste. If you have a full frame camera you will be able to push your ISO much higher without compromising quality. Remember that you can also reduce grain easily in Lightroom.
3. Learn to Shoot Wide Open
To allow more light into your camera shoot with your widest aperture (smallest number). This will shorten your depth of field (more blur in the background) but brighten your photos up significantly. Wide prime lenses and fast lenses, which are capable of stopping down to 1.8 can make a huge difference, so it is important to think about which lenses you choose. Learning how to shoot wide open while still nailing focus can take some practice, so be patient. This goes into understanding your plane of focus and where you are according to your subject.
4. Slow Down Your Shutter Speed
Slowing down your shutter speed will also allow more light into your camera, but can cause motion blur so be aware. Shooting around 1/100, 1/125 is usually the lowest I would shoot for portraits, but experiment with different settings.
5. Use a Tripod
Try using a tripod to help keep your camera steady, which will allow you to use slower shutter speeds without blur if your subject is still. We understand that shooting on the go, especially with children makes using a tripod difficult, but you can also try leaning against walls or steadying yourself on tables for extra support. If your lens has vibration reduction this will help reduce blur from camera shake as well.
6. Use Reflecting Light
Using a reflector to bounce more light on to your subject can be a huge help in dim situations. If you don't own a reflector you can easily make a DIY reflector using white board and some tin foil. You can also try placing yourself near white walls or near reflective objects such as fridges and mirrors.
7. Avoid Overhead Lighting
Artificial light not only causes issues with white balance but is often placed overhead which causes dark shadows under the eyes and unflattering light in general. If you have overhead lighting stand slightly behind or in front of the light source to avoid shadows. Try sticking close to windows and doorways for as much natural light as possible, even if it seems there isn't much light coming through.
If artificial lighting is causing you trouble with colours try setting a custom white balance using a white piece of paper or simply convert to black and white.
8. Seek Pockets of Light
You'll be surprised at the little bits of light you can find in your home when you look for it. It may take some time for it to come easily, but practice looking for light in unexpected places. If you learn to place your subjects correctly it can make for some stunning images.
9. Post Processing
When it comes to editing there are a few things to keep in mind. If you have shot in RAW and your photos are too dark you will be able to rescue them quite a bit by simply boosting the exposure. If your photo still seems dull to you, you can try lifting the shadows or boosting the whites. Try to avoid increasing contrast because not only will that deepen your shadows it will also increase the colour vibrancy and change tones, which usually doesn't turn out well with indoor light. Learning how to burn and dodge can also give your photos that extra pop they may need.
We hope these tips have inspired you to continue shooting indoors. We would love to see your indoor photos so make sure you visit us on Facebook, tag us on Instagram or follow our Pinterest.
Happy shooting! x