Behind the Blog: How I Get Bright Pictures Indoors

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Behind the Blog post, but I haven’t forgotten about them!  Life has been happening, that’s all.

One question I get asked a lot is how I take such bright pictures indoors.  I’m actually NOT a good example of this for many, many, many reasons.  Overexposed pictures, breaking photography rules…stuff like that.  But I’m going to show you anyway, not for a tutorial type of thing that you should replicate–because you really shouldn’t follow my example–but simply just for the sake of interest and curiosity.

Also, this is a HUGE, FAT warning that how I get the pictures I do is mostly a fluke.  Really.  I wanted to improve the quality of my pictures, so I asked my professional photographer friend to come over and give me some pointers.  I showed her what I did, knowing that I was breaking a lot of photography rules, and instead of being able to help me, I actually puzzled her.  She walked away wondering how on earth I get the pictures to look the way I do.

Here’s the behind the scenes anyway, but don’t judge me.  Especially anyone that knows anything about photography–you might cringe.  Cover your eyes and don’t read on!

First of all, I use a Canon S95.  (You can find it a lot lot lot cheaper than that link shows.)  It’s not a DSLR, but it’s a point-and-shoot that allows you to have more control of settings than normal.  This might change soon, as we just ordered a new camera.  But, whatever.

The wall I take pictures against is next to a huge window.  Because I have a really flexible work schedule many days I can time picture taking when the sun is on this side of the house.  (I’ll write about my blogging schedule another time.)

There’s our little kitchen!

In addition to the window I turn on all the nearby lights and bring another lamp over.  I’ve read a few articles on soft versus hard light, so I don’t point the lamp directly at myself.  Instead I try to bounce light off one of the walls to brighten up the overall space rather than focusing the light directly on me.  (This is probably the only thing I would advise you to take away from this whole post.  The rest is questionable.  🙂  )

The lighting is still uneven since most of it is coming from my left side…but…eh, it’s good enough.  And if you’ve ever wondered why I’m often turned to my right side in side shots, it’s because the light from the window is usually too bright to face.

Camera Settings
This is the part that my photographer friend would rather me not do…

In a nutshell, I completely overexpose the shot in order to brighten it up.  Basically, in the area that’s circled in yellow, that dial should be centered or pretty near centered.  Instead, I overexpose the shot, pushing the dial all the way to the right to get a brighter picture.  I know this is against some rules and it makes my pictures a little overexposed–which is what I wanted my photographer friend’s help with in the first place.  BUT, she couldn’t figure out how to get brighter shots than what I’m currently doing in some more rule-following ways, at least not in my house.  
We tried a few different things, like evening out the lighting so that she could do all the brightening in post-processing, changing camera settings, etc.  Whatever I’d been doing created the best results in terms of brightness.  In the end she was basically like, “Well, if this is working, then just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Above on the left is what my pictures would look like with less exposure, and I even bumped the dial higher than center–it was 3/4 of the way up.  On the right is more exposure, how I usually take my pics indoors.  There are problems with both pictures, but in the end I prefer brighter shots.
Really, that’s pretty much it!  Standing next to a window, getting some good soft lighting and overexposing my shots.  😛

Catch the rest of the Behind the Blog series by clicking here.

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