Tag: indoor lighting

How to: Make Better Images Indoors

Here in Europe, you can already feel it… Winter season is here. The days are getting shorter, it is getting colder outside, and in some parts it is already starting to snow. Of course, such conditions create perfect outdoor sceneries to capture in your photos, but shooting portraits and other pictures involving people or pets might be challenging due to the unpredictable weather. Therefore, it is time to move back inside and make use of the cozy vibes of our homes. Especially, since Christmas is around the corner, and we are about to take the perfect cheesy family pictures. For beautiful indoor images with perfect color, you need to know how to respond to available light.

Remember, what you see is what you get!

Utilizing your camera’s electronic viewfinder, or the main LCD screen, gives you an accurate view of how the picture will be when you hit the shutter, eliminating any kind of guesswork. Even if you make adjustments to exposure or other settings, you are able to see these in your viewfinder. Thus, you get the picture exactly the way you want to.

Did you know if you add a live histogram to the display, it shows how bright or dark the image you will make is? In your camera’s settings, simply go to ‘screen set-up > display custom setting > activate histogram’.

Make use of auto ISO

As always, available light is inconsistent and therefore, it is important to be adjustable. ISO is every photographer’s secret for that! For everyone who is lazy or as we like to call it ‘smart’, simply set the ISO to Auto, so it adjusts automatically, ensuring you get a good exposure every time. If you prefer adjusting the ISO to your specific requirements, you can as well do so manually by altering the ISO handle.

In addition, you can set a minimum shutter speed with the Auto ISO. Now, it will not drop below that setting – as you can see, all you need to do is tell the camera to do what you want it to do! By choosing one of the auto ISO modes you will be able to change the three settings ‘Default Sensitivity, Max Sensitivity and Min. Shutter Speed’.

Significant to note is that control over Auto ISO is only available in the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual modes. In other options, the camera uses Auto ISO automatically.

(Soft)box of tricks

How a cardboard box can be turned into a useful light modifier for the grand sum of 60p

I was in my garage the other day and realised something; it’s full of empty cardboard boxes. It’s a shocking confession I know, but what with eBay and other things you just never know when you might need a box, right? The 53 I counted, however, maybe considered a little excessive. I started to think whether I could trim the numbers down a little and my mind drifted to the fact that I’d been taking some flash images a couple of weeks earlier where I’d been a little disappointed by the harshness of the direct flash light. Within moments, a plan was hatched.

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After a root around in the section of the garage not populated with cardboard, plus the kitchen drawers, I ended up with this selection of goodies with which I decided to make a softbox:

  • 1x small cardboard box
  • 1x roll of kitchen foil
  • 1x roll of electrician’s tape
  • 1x pair of scissors
  • 1x flashgun (I’m using an EF-42)
  • 3x sheets of tracing paper at 20p a sheet
  • 1x bottle of glue (optional)

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I started by placing the flashgun in a central position on the box and drawing around it to give me an approximate shape of the flash head.

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Grabbing the scissors, I cut the shape out, going slightly inside the lines I’d drawn to make sure that the head fitted through snugly. 

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Confident my cutting skills had progressed from primary school, I taped the sides of the box down. They could have been cut off, of course, but I preferred to tape them down to create slightly more robust sides to the box.

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I used a couple of lengths of foil to coat the inside of the box. This could be glued down if you wish, but the nature of foil meant that it moulded to the shape nicely and stayed put. There’s no need to smooth it down, just as long as the light can happily reflect around, you’re fine.

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Having covered up the hole in the box, I then cut a second hold through the foil and pushed the flash head back through.

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Putting the box to one side, I took a sheet of the tracing paper and folded it in half to provide the diffusing panel for the front of my softbox. As it transpired, I only needed the one sheet, but you could use more if you wanted an even softer result.

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The tracing paper was then taped on all four sides of the box leaving it ready for action.

Now, it’s pretty evident that my box had a flaw in that it covered up the AF illuminator. As I was only working in dim light, this wasn’t an issue, but if you want to shoot in pitch black you’re going to struggle. There are no worries about metering, though, the X-T2 I was shooting with has TTL metering so I could be sure of accurate exposures.

So, just how good was my softbox? I’d say the results speak for themselves:

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This first image was taken without the softbox attached. As I was close to the subject with the EF-42 flash mounted on the camera’s hot-shoe, there’s an issue with coverage. The flash hasn’t illuminated the bottom part of the frame very well, plus the shadows behind the soft toy are very harsh. All in all, not the best.

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With my softbox in place, however, there’s a real improvement. The coverage is much more even and the shadows are far less harsh.

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But this shot is arguably even better, created by pointing the flashgun, with softbox attached, straight to the ceiling. It’s created a lovely even top light to the toy, which looks more like studio lighting than a flashgun with a cardboard box stuck on it.

Not bad for 60p and 30 minutes of my time, is it?