Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shooting with Indoor Natural Light

I love VINTAGE and have a running portrait series called
Vintage Val.
I "discovered" her at the hair salon when I was getting my hair cut,
and asked if she would pose for a vintage shoot.
Well, we couldn't stop!  We have been shooting Vintage Val
every season for two years!
This is our winter shoot for 2015.
Shooting indoors with natural light can be intimidating, but
the results can be amazing...and well worth the effort!
This bedroom is PERFECT with two windows.
The one at the head of the bed faces east, the other south.
We did this shoot at 10 am on a cloudy day which created
perfect, soft light!
I also use a reflector if needed to brighten the face.
I always do test shots before Val arrives.
Camera settings will be different for each situation, so by
practicing ahead, you will have an idea of how to set your camera.
I am blessed that my camera, the Canon 5D Mark III, has excellent
ISO capabilities.  I shot these portraits at ISO 500 without noise.
When shooting indoors, I need to raise the ISO enough to keep my
shutter speed FAST so I don't get blur.
This is a common problem shooting indoors where it is darker.
It's tempting to just try to hold it steady with slower shutter speeds,
but that usually creates blur. I want the shutter
at 1/125s at the very least!
  So, just up the ISO...a little noise is better than blur!
Here's a practice selfie in the dressing room:
Once Val arrived, I could place her and really study
where the light was falling on her face.
I know you can play with shadows while shooting indoors,
but I don't like shadows on the face.
That is my personal style.
So I really study the light to make sure she has no shadows.
If she does, I use the reflector.
This day, my photo helpers were not there, so I actually
held the reflector and shot at the same time!
The reflector fills in the shadows with light.
If you like the shadows...that's fine, too!
It's really about shooting what pleases YOU!
The two windows were ideal for lighting.
Notice how she is facing the south window for almost all of my shots.

I rarely use flash, but sometimes it really helps to
brighten up a dark corner.
But I  never use flash directly on a face. 
For faces, I sometimes bounce flash off a reflector or white wall.
I prefer the softness of reflector light.
I only use prime lenses for portrait work.
Because we were in tight confines in this bedroom,
after I got some closer shots with my 50mm 1.4 lens,
I popped on my 20mm prime to get a wider view.
I love to find different perspectives,
like in this next photo, I included the tea set in the foreground.
Shadowy corners, but no shadows on the face.
I stood on a ladder for this next shot.
I am always looking for a unique perspective!
I think these shots from above are my favorite.
Look at that perfect kiss of light from the window.
I love to play with depth of field, too!
Simply shoot with a wide aperture
and the surroundings will blur.
Looking for different angles and perspectives will
take your portrait photography to new levels!
Here I played with the many mirrors in the dressing room.
I hope these tips inspire you to try an indoor shoot.
Take your time to find and use the light
and let your creativity go wild!


  1. Thanks for sharing all the tips for shooting indoors! Val is the most beautiful model ever and you have captured her beauty perfectly. I always look forward to seeing your photos in the Vintage Val series, your creativity never stops, JOB WELL DONE!!

  2. Wow!
    What impressive shots. This looks like a magazine ad.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge on indoor lighting. Your props and decor really add to the effect.
    Beautifully Done Jill...

  3. Great pictures, love the room and the take amazing photos...

  4. Wow she is one lucky girl to get such amazing shots.