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Five Important Tips for Photographing Your Home

This post on photography tips is brought to you by your fellow photo lovers at Shutterfly. They encourage you to capture your memories and share your amazing pictures the way you want with their new Custom Path photo books.

I’ve learned a lot about photographing my home over the last several years. I look back at some of my early shots of the house (like the photos in this post featuring my library), and I cringe at how bad they are. Today I’m going to share all of my tips and tricks with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did! You can make just one of these adjustments to improve your shots, or you can combine several changes to really make a difference.

Tripod vs. Handheld

Use a tripod. Always. That’s rule number one, because it’s that important. Rule number two should be to turn off your flash.

Don’t Just Stand There

A lot of people make the mistake of taking pictures from a standing position. It looks amateurish. It’s far better to crouch down just a bit and lower your tripod. (You are using a tripod, right? Rule number one!) Photographing a room from a lower angle makes the ceilings look higher and eliminates weird perspectives from above.

Depth of Field

Want that pretty effect where the subject is in focus and the background is nice and soft? You want shallow depth of field. You use a wide aperture (small F-stop number) to get it. Want everything in focus and sharp? Use a higher number F-stop for deeper depth of field.

Lights On, Lights Off

This comes down to personal preference. My library has been photographed a couple of times by professionals (here and here), and one photographer turned off every light while the other turned them all on (and brought in a few more). I like the look of the photo above with the lights on, but the one with the lights off has truer colors. (Yes, the ceiling is a soft green.)

Proper Exposure

I was focusing on the same spot (the pillow), but that window was making the whole room look backlit. When I first photographed the library in 2007, all of my pictures had this exposure problem, but I had no idea how to fix it (other than trying like mad with Photoshop, to so-so results). I got a better shot here by keeping the aperture the same (to maintain the same depth of field), and decreasing the shutter speed to keep the shutter open longer and let more light in.

Practice Makes Perfect

I’ve been blogging about my home since 2007, so I’ve had a lot of practice and a lot of time to improve. Hopefully these tips will help you get a jump on your own photos and you can avoid some of my early mistakes!

Eventually I want to reshoot some of my older pictures. I would love to make a photo book of my house, maybe featuring a bunch of before and after shots (now that I can take better “after” shots!). Or wouldn’t it be great to make a book for you or your kids to remember their home by if you were moving to a new house? I would have loved a memento like that of my childhood home.

Are any of these tips new to you? Or do you have any you’d like to add?

Sewing Today

I’m sewing curtains for August’s nursery today. With drapery hooks. Wish me luck.

Upgrading from a Basic Canon Rebel DSLR

I’ve been focusing a lot on photography lately. I learned how to use my camera in manual mode as part of my Thirty Before 30 list, and then I improved my skills with a Photo 101 course. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, but I’ve realized that I’ve reached my camera’s limitations.

My trusty Canon Rebel XT (350D) has been good to me. Yes, there have been a million improvements on it since mine came out in 2005, but I never felt the need to upgrade until now. My camera is only 8 megapixels, and I can’t go above ISO 400 without noticeable noise (not that the camera goes above 1600 anyway). Our bungalow is dark and taking photos inside has been challenging, so I’m looking for better ISO performance (and better quality overall).

It seems like every blogger with a fancy camera is using a Canon 5D, and I assumed I would upgrade to one as well. Except the more I did my research, the more the Canon 7D started to sound really good. It even does some things better than the 5D (a faster frame rate, and 19 focus points instead of 9, to name a few). Yes, the 5D is a full-frame camera, and it performs exceedingly well in low-light situations, but I think I’m going to be very happy with the 7D for years to come. I may upgrade further to a 5D eventually, but in the meantime I can invest in lenses.

Speaking of lenses, I have the nifty fifty, and I also have a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens. The Tamron was purchased a few months ago as an upgrade to my Rebel’s kit lens while I save for a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AF. (I think.) The Tamron is a great, inexpensive lens, and I’m excited about using it with my 7D.

I have a post planned for later this month about taking photos of your home, so I’ll take a little time to get to know my new camera before then and I’ll let you know how it is. Now, I’d love to hear from all of you… Are you using a point and shoot, or do you have a DSLR? I’m not a pro (yet), but I can try to answer any questions you may have. I feel like I’ve learned so much even though I used to find all of the information overwhelming, and I want others to know that they can learn it too.

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