31 Days: Day 11

From yesterday we established that natural light is your photography friend. Well, maybe you should think of it as your awkward friend who is happy to come to the party, but doesn't really know where to sit. You'll have to help him out a little sometimes.

Ok confusing metaphor aside - the direction of light makes a HUGE difference on the quality of your picture.

Ideally the light will always be behind you and not behind the subject of your photo.

Light In Front
Light Behind 

See how the clarity and colors are SO much better when the light is in front of your subject?

It's not always the natural state of things though... In my apartment the best angle to see my living room doesn't work with the light - drats.

This is a picture I took of my place a few weeks ago on auto. All of the light is from behind the living room, so it's creating a lot of shadow - just like the pot above.

We'll there are a few things you can do.

1. Mess with your photo settings to help with the brightness. I messed with shutter speed and ISO (slower shutter speed and higher ISO) and it made a big difference.

2. Choose a time of day when the light is less bright outside. It's about balance - not so bright that it overwhelms your room, but not so dim that you can't see your room. Experiment! You can check out a slideshow of my experimentation from Day 10.

3. Reflect the light within the room to balance out the shadows the light causes. A white sheet will make a big difference, or better yet a reflective Emergency Blanket. Just hang it up behind you and let it bounce the light around. (I got this idea from Photojojo.)

It looks like a mess, but you can't see that in the pictures. I just taped one end to the wall with painter's tape and held the other end up while I took the pictures. All of the disaster is safely out of view.

4. Mess with angles and see what happens with the light. It makes a difference even when the light is angled just a little more.

5. Shoot in RAW format if you can (check your camera's manual), because from what I've read it's the best format for adjusting lighting with editing software later on. We'll get to that :)

None of the pictures above were edited, so you really can do this with a little leg work! If you edit them, they look even better :)

Short of renovation that includes moving or enlarging your windows, working with what you've got is what it's all about with indoor light. Try a few angles and see what you come up with :)


  1. First, Love the photo tips.

    Second, The scrabble wall - oh my!
    I just pinned it on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/cafed/

    Third, what a great Philco Radio! Looks like about 1936-1939 or so. (I have one similar.)

    All the best,
    Dana at Cooking At Cafe D
    (Who would use a LOT of help with her pictures...and is a new follower!)

  2. Thanks Dana!! We modded the radio so it plays our record player and any bluetooth signals (iphones, computer, etc). We LOVE it.


    Thanks for following!!

  3. Love this post. I have the same problem in my living room and had no idea how to get around it. Thanks for the tip! Great series!

  4. You're SO welcome! I think a lot of living rooms are like this - we all orient our lives around the beautiful sunlight and views if we can :)