Embracing Indoor Harsh Light | by Priyanka Berry

Lets be honest, all of us want to click pictures at golden hour with sunsets and twirly dresses. I do too! And I get to execute that once in a month maybe? But in reality it became difficult to find golden light with tiny human beings. I struggled to find it with a colicky newborn. Especially in winter where the days are short, and golden hour happens in peak cranky of the day. Dinner also trumped golden hour for sure.

So, I started clicking pictures regardless of the time and light of the day and realized its possible to take pictures in harsh afternoon light. It soon became one of my favorite time during weekends where I spent quality time with older one (who otherwise is at preschool during weekdays) and create memories. I started to see light differently in my house. Observing how the light changed with every hour and how it shifted from room to room, gave me new perspectives.

Harsh light also gives stunning shadows, highlights and contrast between the two. I absolutely love seeing how they interact with each other. Because every hour it changes.

Hence this blog. It is not a tutorial but just me penning down my account of how I used the available light in pictures over this winter. And how it might help you too.

Use Pockets of light.

Afternoons create beautiful pockets of light in 2-3 of our rooms and I started putting activities right in the middle of those pockets to attract my older one. Then I unleashed my younger one in vicinity. And then I just clicked. I absolutely adored them interacting. I stopped clicking when I got a few good pictures or moments and joined them in the fun.


Use blinds to create pockets of light.
Here I closed the blinds and opened only a part of it with clothespin to create a slice of light pocket.

Use the same light from different angles.

I got different shadows and point of views from various parts of the same room, same light and same subjects.

Observe dappled light.

Blinds, plants and object shadows create dappled light, so I tried using them intentionally.

Meter for highlights on subjects.

This is slightly tricky part and every camera deals with it differently. I try to meter correctly for the highlights on subjects face. I use Fuji Xt3 and I have blown highlight blinkers on. But many times it becomes a matter of trial and error to know how much you can underexpose to save details in highlights. Especially if you are playing with sunbursts because then you are shooting with narrow aperture already. It took sometime to know how much to underexpose then. You will get grainy pictures too sometimes.

Convert to Black and White.

With so much tonal variation in this light, you get plenty of highlights and shadows to convert into beautiful black and whites. Especially if you blew highlights in a picture. It gives a beautiful conversion.


Play with sun bursts and flares.

The sun is up in the sky higher at these times so you will have to click at lower angle to get these sun bursts. Get silhouettes.

Get creative with Self portraits.

Very rarely when the kids were napping at the same time during afternoon, I jumped in front of the camera and these have been one of my favorite self portraits of mine.


Use accessories like copper pipe indoors or learn new techniques.

This is how I learnt to use a copper pipe. You don’t have to limit to just pipes. Use prisms, reflective surfaces, or shoot through objects. I also practiced freelancing in this time and realized it gives gorgeous light leaks.

Most importantly have fun! I hope this blog helps a tiny bit in seeing things differently with harsh indoor light!

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