How to take better photographs of indoor animals
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the season of shorter days and more time indoors is upon us. Indoor pet photography can be tricky, but that doesn’t have to mean shutting down the camera until spring.
When shooting indoors, there are a handful of things you can do to make the process less frustrating and get successful shots more frequently. And, while these tips below are intended for photographs of pets, the same principles can apply to portraits of humans or even general photos of your home!
Perhaps the biggest challenge in indoor photography is getting enough light. Indoor spaces are generally much darker than outdoors and can lead to frustrating photography conditions, especially with an animal that is probably not fully cooperative with the photographs. For this reason, windows will be your best friend. In fact, the light entering through windows can be one of the nicest lights to photograph, as it is softened but still very bright. Photographing near a window, even on a cloudy day, will usually give you enough light for a sharp image, so look for them! For animals who like to look out of windows, take advantage! These pictures can be super cute and will be beautifully filled with light.
The potential risk of filming in front of windows ends up with too harsh a backlight, making it difficult to get the correct exposure. If you are shooting a subject with a window directly behind it, you will need to strike a balance for exposure that will ensure that your window will not be blown out but your subject will not be too dark to recover. Knowing how to adjust your exposure will depend on your subject, how much light entering the window, and your metering mode, but in general, it’s best to get an exposure that allows the highlights to be almost right. exposed, as it is more possible to recover the shadows than the highlights. Sometimes the best thing to do is kiss the figure and leave the shadows just as dark!
Backgrounds are another challenge with interior images and especially home photos. It can be difficult to find a place in a house that doesn’t have fun things in the background, especially if you’re human and don’t have a house that’s constantly magazine-ready. A decently clutter-free location is ideal wherever possible, as simple backgrounds will keep visual attention on your dog or cat (or the animal you’re photographing), as opposed to anything in it. the room. If your dog is allowed on furniture, a sofa or bed is a great place, as they are usually against a wall and can serve as a mostly simple backdrop!
Having said that, too solid a background can get boring and produce a flat image. It can even border on the mugshot style. If you want an even background and as a result you are pulling against a wall, try moving your pet away from the wall at least a few feet (space permitting) to create some depth and separation. against the background. Also, keep in mind that sometimes certain contextual information can add to the vibe or story of an image, so don’t be afraid to include some! Lights from the Christmas tree or a comfy sofa filled with blankets and pillows can set the mood and add to the image. You’ll generally want to avoid an overloaded image with too much stuff in the frame, but including a bit of context can be a good thing.
For those times when you can’t be near a window or maybe it’s just dark, don’t be afraid to increase your ISO! Using a slow shutter speed will result in motion blur (your subject moving) and / or camera shake (camera moving during exposure), so you want to avoid that, and higher ISO sensitivity will help. Yes, high ISO does generate noise, but if you underexpose too much to get a faster shutter speed, you will get noise anyway trying to brighten the image when editing. Better to use a higher ISO and not have to thin out that much later. Also, newer cameras can handle high ISO sensitivity very well!
A large aperture will also be useful for indoor photography, as it will let in more light. In addition, with a large aperture, the depth of field is less, so potentially disturbing background elements become blurry. Shallow depth of field with Christmas lights can also create a fun and festive bokeh, which can be a great background for your furry friend!
Another potentially difficult thing with indoor photography is white balance. If you’re shooting in a lot of natural light, this won’t be a problem, but if you use lamps and other artificial light sources, there’s a good chance white balance will become difficult. Generally speaking, auto white balance will get you close enough, but sometimes artificial lights can mess things up too much. As long as your white balance is close to the correction, you can adjust the final amount when editing. But, when the white balance is extremely imprecise, it can be very difficult to correct and obtain a natural-looking image. For this reason, you may need to turn off automatic white balance. Usually one of the camera’s predefined WB settings will bring you closer, so don’t be afraid to play around and try these different options!
Try new angles
The last tip I have for indoor animal photography is the same one I give for most situations – try new and creative angles. Get down to the ground to be level with your animal and give it more perspective. Or, stand on top of them and pull down so you don’t have to worry about clutter in the background. Changing your angles for different points of view will make a huge difference when it comes to having interesting and successful images.