How to shoot indoors without outside light and get amazing images

Part of the magic of photography is that wherever there is light, you have a potentially good photograph. It’s not all sunrises and sunsets and nice diffused sidelight. Light in all its forms offers us creative opportunities infinite to play with it. Even to photograph indoors without light. Today we will talk about light indoors, but to delve into everything related to lighting in photography, I recommend that you do not miss this very complete guide with everything you need to know.

The light inside It is, without a doubt, a great opportunity to obtain different lights from what we are used to as photographers. Beyond the wonders of natural light, artificial light offers us incredible opportunities to take fascinating photos in different settings.

Now, to get good indoor photos, you will need some tricks like the ones I have prepared below, because it is common to have tried and failed on occasion. It is also common that you have become frustrated and have abandoned interiors as impossible.

So today I want to give you back your faith and let you see how interiors can bring you great opportunities πŸ˜‰ .

Aspects of interior lighting

To make the most of light indoors, in whatever form it comes your way, one of the things you should always do is analyze it. How is that light that you are facing right now?

color temperature

One of the most outstanding aspects of interior lighting is the color temperature Of the lights we meet They are usually warm (they tint the image with orange colors), but you can find them mixed with cooler lights such as fluorescent or bright lights. led cold.

Color temperature is adjusted through the camera’s white balance. Basically what it does is compensate warm lights with cold ones and vice versa to get a neutral toned image. The automatic mode of the camera usually hits pretty well, but if you really want to control the color temperature, I recommend that you work in RAW format.

Light intensity and quality

Another very important aspect to take into account is the intensity and quality of the light that we are going to photograph.

  • Point light. It comes from a small light source with respect to the object (for example a flash), and generates:
    • Hard light that creates very marked shadows and a lot of contrast (central hours of the day, for example).
  • Diffused light. It comes from a large light source with respect to the object (for example with a light window and generates:
    • Soft light that creates lower contrast scenes, and very soft and even imperceptible shadows (the light of a cloudy day).

In interiors, the most common is that the light sources are rather small (bulbs, candles, flash), so, generally, you will find point lights.

How to measure light indoors

Now that we have something clear about the types of light that we can find in an interior, let’s see the best way to measure the light in an interior scene without external light.

spot metering

It is the most accurate. This way, measures the information at the exact point that we indicate without taking into account any type of light information outside of it.

It is very useful when we want a very precise measurement in some part of the specific scene because that is where our center of interest resides without caring about the surrounding information, or when there is a lot of difference between our center of interest and the area that surrounds it.

Example: A birthday, lights off, we measure on the face of the birthday boysince it is the area that really interests us.

Matrix or evaluative metering

This measurement mode measure the light of the whole scene as a whole and try to achieve an exposure for all the tones present in it.

Indoors we don’t usually have a very homogeneous light, so probably the mode that will best suit your needs is the punctual mode.

Tools to photograph between four walls

You don’t need a studio at home to take good interior photos, in fact I think that many times the grace is to take advantage of the lights you have at home. They give it a different touch and offer many possibilities.

Here are some examples that you will find very useful.

  • Table lamps or spotlights
  • Candles
  • flashlights
  • Screens (TV, mobile, tablet)
  • Fireplace if you have πŸ˜‰
  • Flash.
  • Etc.

If you look, the tools that we are talking about have something in common: they are point light sources and a priori small so, in principle, the light will be hard and punctual.

light direction

Note that the direction or orientation of the light speaks as much as the intensity. It is very important, because you do not count the same in a portrait with a soft light from the side than with a hard light from above. Do the test and you will see that two completely different portraits or images result.

  1. Front light: if you place the subject/object in front of the light source and you stand between them, the model will receive the light from the front. you will get a picture without textures but in return you will be able to capture more details.
  2. side light: the subject/object receives the light from the side, so you get increase volume and highlight textures.
  3. Back light: when the subject/object is between you and the light source, you will be able to achieve silhouettes and other effects such as an aura around the figures you are photographing.
  4. Overhead light: This type of lighting is the one that comes from above. It can help you achieve different effects, although in portraits it causes unflattering shadows.
  5. Light against zenith: the light source illuminates the scene, subject, or object from below.

And only now that we have all the cards on the table, let’s see…

How to photograph objects indoors without outside light, step by step

Now let’s see how to proceed step by step.

  1. analyze the light in front of you: is it punctual or matrix? Is it warm or cold?
    • Based on the above, set measurement mode of your camera, usually the one that will work best for you is the spot mode.
    • Set the white balance to auto (usually works fine) or manual for complete control.
  2. I recommend that you work at raw since then you will be able to process this type of somewhat complicated lights for your camera, with much better results.
  3. Compose your scene.
  4. Measure the light above your center of interest.
  5. Analyze the values carefully and adjust them to your liking.
    • The ideal is to maintain a minimum speed so that your photo does not come out blurred or use a tripod (always recommended).
    • To bring more light to the scene, open the diaphragm, although keep in mind that this will also reduce the depth of field.
      • The camera may have trouble focusing; if so, do it manually.
    • Set the ISO to a value where you know your camera retains good sharpness. It is always better to leave the ISO value last, and only raise it if you really need it, as it adds noise to the image.
  6. The fewer lights are combined in the scene, the easier it will be for you to compose it, measure it and get good results. You know, less is more πŸ˜‰
  7. HE creative, try different light orientations, subject positions (closer or farther from the light source, etc).
  8. Take care of the background indoors, unwanted elements tend to creep in, sometimes we don’t notice them because they’re always there πŸ˜‰

Examples of interior photography

I use these three images so you can see that with very simple lights, you can get somewhat different photos than usual.

1- I took the first image taking advantage of the light from the mobile phone screen that slightly illuminated my daughter’s face. I sat her in a chair in the middle of a hallway with all the other lights off. Some dim light also reaches the chair from where I was and, being white, reflects it slightly. I measured in spot mode in the brightest area of ​​the face.

2- With a flashlight in a dark room, I placed my model in profile right where the light drew her silhouette. I moved until I found the exact spot I wanted and measured in the light to leave the face against the light, and the background dark.

3- We return to the mobile, this time with the flashlight of the phone, lighting from the bottom up and projecting the shadow of her curly hair on the wall. This image made us very funny πŸ˜‰ .


To illuminate your photographs indoors without external light, I recommend:

  • Analyze light (intensity, direction and tonality).
  • Choose a measurement mode (generally it will be punctual).
  • Try not to abuse the ISO.
  • Work with open apertures to let in as much light as possible without having to work with very high ISO or speeds that are too low.
  • Adjust white balance or work in RAW (recommended).
  • If there is little light, it is safest to focus on manual.
  • Don’t be afraid to edit your image. Play with blacks, shadows and highlights to adjust the result to the image you had in mind.
  • Unleash your creativity.
  • Enjoy.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love this type of photography, so close at hand πŸ™‚ . I always defend that you can get interesting images anywhere and that the more you let your creativity and enthusiasm fly, the more both grow. Exponentially, I assure you. You start with a basic idea and end up with something really crazy. Insanely crazy, you love it ;).

So now you know, I appreciate you reading this far, but I’ll thank you even more. that you practice it You will see that once you start, you will not be able to stop. Can you tell us about any experience in comments? Thank you very much and see you in the next article πŸ™‚