3 Tools for Photographing a Dark Home

Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.
Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.

So far, I've photographed the "finished" progress of 4 or 5 rooms in our current house. Decorating is yet another creative outlet for me and I find joy in cleaning up a room to photograph it before it changes or gets messy again. But photographing the rooms in our current house has been much more difficult than in our previous house.

Our current house is surrounded by trees. It took about 5 minutes one November afternoon, walking through the neighborhood for me to fall in love with it. With the heat and sun we endure in Texas, it's a huge bonus to have natural shade. But there is one drawback: our home can be quite dark inside as a result of all those trees. The complete opposite of our last house. So this post is about the the 3 tools I've learned to rely on to photograph the inside of my dark, dark home.

Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.
Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.

1 - A CAMERA I use a Nikon D90 for photographing the inside of my house, along with lenses ranging from 12-50mm. You don't need expensive lenses or a fancy DSLR. As long as you can put your camera in manual mode, you'll be fine. I do like to use my wide angle lens occasionally because many rooms are small and need a wider angle to fit it all in the photo the way I want it.

The reason manual mode is so important is because you can slow the shutter speed down and let more light into the camera, creating a photo with brighter light than you're even seeing in person. The photos above show the difference in shutter speed settings. The image on the left is similar to what I was seeing with my own eyes, but once I allowed more light into my camera (by increasing the amount of time my shutter was open) a brighter image was created. And my dark house looks super bright and cheerful.

Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.
Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.

2 - A TRIPOD I have this one, which is way more than you need. We bought this one while storm chasing in (what seems like) another life. A simple $20 one will do just fine in this situation. But it is a must, because if you're shutter is open longer than 1/125 of a second, you'll likely end up with a blurry picture. These shots taken on Ephram's room were taken with the shutter opening for 2 whole seconds. There's no way I could have stood still enough to take this picture in my hands without creating some blur.

Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.
Tips for photographing the interior of a dark home.

3 - A REMOTE. This one isn't nearly as important as a camera and tripod, but it definitely doesn't hurt. A remote allows you to tell the camera to take the picture without actually having to touch the camera. This is super helpful in that you don't risk wobbling the camera when you put the button down, which can result in a blurry photo. I have this one and have zero complaints.

In addition to these three tools, observing when the light is brightest in the room is of course a big component as well. And sometimes this means waiting a minute or two for a cloud to pass by.