One of my most asked questions on Instagram is – what do you use to take your photos?
Before I begin, let me say that I am by no means a professional photographer. In fact, I’d never picked up a DSLR camera before 2 years ago when my husband surprised me with one just before our trip to NYC. What better place to learn to use a professional camera than in New York! I had to learn the basics fast. It’s also worth noting that we didn’t invest in a camera for interior images only, but also just for fun, holidays and family pics too. However, in this post I am going to focus on how I use my DSLR for interior images.
So if you already know your way around a camera then this post is not for you. Here I am going to share the bare basics of what I would have liked spelled out to me. If you are just getting started with a DSLR or hoping to soon then maybe something I share will help you on your way. Or if you’re just curious about what settings I use for my own interior shots, then read on…
For all my photographs I use my Nikon D5300. I have two lenses, a 55mm zoom lens and a 35mm prime lens. A zoom lens takes wider shots and so it’s very useful for taking full room views and photographs where you want many objects in focus.
A prime lens is great for close ups where a single object is in focus and you get that nice blurred foreground/background.
I mostly use the zoom lens for interiors, but the prime lens comes in handy when I’m doing a product shoot (and it’s amazing for portrait photography). I sometimes use a tripod, and should use it more.
First of all it’s important to note that I always take my pictures in natural light, never with the lights on. Artificial light gives a yellow glow which discolours the whites in your photograph. Below is the same shot but one with the light on and one with it off. You can very much see the difference.
I also try to shoot on a slightly overcast day. If the lighting is too dark is creates grainy images, and if the sun is out it means constant shifts in lighting and too many highlights and shadows.
When getting started with a DSLR many like to shoot on auto. Mr F told me, if you’re going to learn then do it properly! So manual it was. Thankfully he’s techy minded and very much on hand to help. I found that the advantage of learning to shoot manually was having greater control over the settings and no sudden surprise of the flash (which also gives images that yellow glow).
So here are the settings I use the most when photographing for my instagram and blog. Like I said, I am no professional, this is just what I find works for me.
There are three basic things you need to adjust –
- The IOS 2. The aperture 3. The shutter speed
1. The higher the IOS the brighter the photograph but also the more blurry/grainy it can become. I usually set the IOS to 200/250 in a well lit room (natural light), I really avoid going higher than 400 as you start to sacrifice the quality of the image.
2. The aperture is like the iris of your eye. The wider it is (lower f stop) the more light it allows in, and the more closed it is (higher f stop) the less light it allows in. Again it depends on the natural light that day but for light bright photographs I like to set the aperture as low as possible, usually f/5.6 with my zoom lens.
3. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the brighter your photograph because it allows more time for light to hit the camera, but it also decreases the sharpness of your image as the camera becomes more sensitive to movement. (This is where a tripod comes in very handy!) It is easier to get a sharper image with a faster shutter speed. I usually set my aperture to f/5.6 first and then try to use the fastest shutter speed I can while still getting a bright image. Typically my shutter speed is set between 1/20 to 1/60 which is still quite slow and so it requires a steady hand or a tripod.
After taking my pictures I use Lightroom for any touch ups needed. I don’t do heavy editing, but just adjust a few things like exposure, white balance and sharpness to get the image looking more as it does to the naked eye. Below is a before and after of the same image before edit and after edit.
There is obviously far more to camera settings than this, but once I had got my head around the basics of shooting on manual I was able to take better quality images and felt confident to explore further. Do you have a DSLR? Do you use your settings differently? If you have any questions please feel free to ask 🙂