Sunday, May 25, 2014

Some tips for indoor shooting and other thoughts from yoshimi the flying squirrel.

I'm recording my handmade outfit for Me-Made-May'14 challenge every day since May the 1st.

Until recently, I was taking my blog pictures mostly in a dark emergency staircase because I was thinking it was the only space I could use for my photo shooting on weekdays. Now I changed my mind and I'm trying to take chances of outdoor photos on weekends as much as possible, though, the long and sad indoor experience grew some clues for taking outfit pictures in darker and closed spaces in me. Although I can't be very helpful for you who have healthy lights or already conquered similar conditions to mine, I think it might be helpful for some of you who are struggling with indoor photos right now. I'm going to share some of my humble ideas on it today. I am very happy if you find this post a bit helpful.

Find the backdrop. Three angles to find your own.
1. Less items
We tend to notice every item in a photo. I mean, the small electric socket there and the half opened curtain here. Especially in indoor photographs, such items can interfere with the attentions of viewers, even though we wouldn't care or look at them when we are actually on site. Eyes process much information to ignore the reality to "see" things efficiently, but they tend not to do it to the scenery in photographs. If you are a novice photographer and would like to get some simple and focused indoor outfit pictures, be conscious to find a frame that has miscellaneous items as less as possible, and have only some furniture that you can use as an effect in your frame.

2. Some lights.
You need lights. But my suggestion is this. Never use flash lights unless you know them well. Find your place near a large window and use it as your illuminant from front-ish side. Indirect lights usually give prettier results, as far as I know. We can also use bounce lighting for pretty pictures, but it needs more explanations, so I leave it untouched today.

3. Enough distance.
If the camera has a zoom, photographs taken from distance using long zoom would bring so-called "better" proportions of human subject in the pictures. Find your place where you can keep distance between the lens and you. Put the camera at between the levels of navel and chest, and slant the camera upward slightest much, especially when taking from head to toe pictures.

Think of "Portrait" function.
"Auto" can take pretty pictures, but if you are an adventurous amateur photographer and also if you have the function in your camera, try Portrait function and see whether you like it or not. More than sometimes the function gives smoother, brighter and prettier skin on the human subjects. I think no one has any problem with smoother looks of oneself in the pictures.

Try longer exposure after trying to find a large window.
I'd suggest to use AE mode to fix the lens aperture, and to try different exposures to check how your test photographs. You can fix the lens aperture to the smaller number, perhaps the second smallest one, so that you can get more light with shorter shutter speeds and also relatively shallow depths of field. Try "Automatic Exposure Bracket" to find the exposure of your favorite. Compact digital cameras have the function too. These photographs are my examples for test bracketing. I preferred +1 exposure to -1, and 0. I had a waist-high and large window on your right in the pictures.
Then I tried a second test with +0.7, +1, and +1.3 to go into details. I chose +1.3 and continued the photo shoot with this setting. I didn't go further with much longer exposures, but of course you can try longer ones if you need.

+1.3EV (chosen)

*The first set of three was taken by my Canon compact digital and the latter was taken by my Nikon DSLR with a zoom lens. I just wanted to show that we can do the same thing with whichever cameras that you own.

Think of dropping but not keeping.
Keep some but not all of the photographs taken, otherwise it may start coercing your freedom to shoot freely, eventually. Make some efforts for selecting very small number of better ones among many right after shooting. It grows the skill of choosing your camera setting too.

Suspend white balance until next time.
It all depends on the site. Just know that there are options and you can surely change the white balance etc for different temperatures. But it may be OK to learn it later.

Last but not least, be relaxed.
This is the suggestion 100% same as how Margo started in her brilliant blog post about taking outfit photographs. I cannot agree with her more. In my opinion pictures tell things much more than one would think. When talking about portraits and such, pictures are good at highlighting the smallest frictions when your facial expressions are not linked to your heart. They don't tell what exactly the situation in the "real" site is, however, people discern such and such over pictures and smell dubiety instantly. I mean, if you would like yourself smiling in the pic, you have to smile at heart. Otherwise people would sense that you're not smiling and you are pretending, which has the opposite effect. People are enough clever to distinguish shy smiles from pretentious smiles. If your face is looking at somewhere away awkwardly, people think you are resisting from telling how you actually are. I don't know how we do, but we do. If you would like viewers to be interested in you, you have to try to make efforts to be someone who is interesting instead of asking them to think that you're interesting.

The closest way to control the situation is that becoming the person who you'd like to be and then making yourself relaxed about it, unless you're a professional. By the way, I don't think it is stupid to smile at cameras for your sewing records/blog reports/etc. When you are photographed for the purpose of telling your friends how well you are doing, you have a fair amount of reasons to do so. And it's good to present real "you" to the camera, even though your camera is a mere machine on the tripod. It maybe silly, but it is no harm to anybody. Who cares, we can live our lives only once. (I want to time travel and tell this to me myself from ten years ago. Ha ha)

Have a happy day!

Much love,


  1. This is such a great post, thank you Yoshimi, I have a lot to think about (and learn!).

  2. Thank you, Yoshimi!!!!! You've crammed so many great tips into one post. I've been experimenting a little lately with putting my camera further away and zooming in a bit - so I'm excited that you mentioned doing that too! I think I might try putting my camera even further away today and compare how the pics turn out. You make a great point about how distracting little things can be in pictures... that's something I need to work on! I"m also glad you pointed out that even point and shoot cameras have lots of options - everyone can get great pictures!

  3. thanks for all the info. I have such a difficult time with doing photos for my blog. And I alway smile, I can't help myself. I like it when you smile too :)

  4. Excellent post, and something to think about! :)

  5. Thank you Yoshimi for posting this! You made so many great points, especially the one Gillian mentioned above...the little distracting details. I too love a smiling picture... your right, we have only one life to live let's smile (and laugh!) through as much of it as possible!

  6. Great post Yoshimi! I want to go and practice but I have to go to work!

  7. This is fantastic information Yoshimi! Thank you ever so much for going to the trouble to pull this post together. I've always admired your photographs, both indoor and out, and will most definitely use your tips as I've been working on bettering my photography skills. Thank you again.

  8. Great post Yoshimi! I haven´t got a space that has such a good light, or that isn´t crowded, but I can use a lot of information! Thank you!

  9. Great tips! Thanks for posting.

  10. You have explained it all so well Yoshimi and given us all information to think about to get better photos for our blogs, thank you.

  11. Hello Yoshimi-san!
    I have been reading your blog from time to time, always inspired by your creative work and great smile!
    Being inspired once again with this post, today I tried a self-shoot for the first time using a tripod.
    One of the hardest things about taking pictures of yourself in Japan prior to all the techniques is the small houses we live in, and the dense neighborhood. I live in a 3LDK apartment in Yokohama, and it is almost impossible to find a clean space in the house, nor a place outside where no one will pass by.

    I also find it interesting that there are very few Japanese people who show their faces in their blogs even when they are popular fashion bloggers.

    I will keep on trying what I can, which, who knows may lead to something very creative!!

    Thank you for your share!


Thank you for your comments!!