A woman touches a paper star hanging from her ceiling, in front of shuttered windows.

INDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY

Picture perfect projects: three ideas for creative photoshoots at home

Creative inspiration abounds in the home, often simply hiding in plain sight. Take a closer look at the space you know so well and you'll be surprised - and inspired - by just how many subjects and scenarios you can explore creatively with your camera.

One of the best ways to get creative at home is to explore features on your camera that you might not have used before. The Canon EOS 90D, for example, has an intervalometer for time-lapses and focus stacking to help you create your sharpest images ever. Here are three indoor photo ideas to help inspire your creativity. They're great ways to sharpen your skills, learn new tricks with your camera, and even discover a new favourite area of photography.

Fast-forward – shoot a fun time-lapse video

A Canon EOS 90D on a tripod filming ingredients laid out on a table.
Shooting from above, especially for video, creates an interesting flatlay shot. Using a tripod maintains stability throughout.

We often see time-lapse videos of the sun setting over a dramatic urban landscape, but you can shoot just as compelling time-lapse videos in the comfort of your own home! The key to a good time-lapse is simply showing the viewer something from a new perspective. It could be something as simple as baking something and seeing it rise in the oven, as we've done here filming the making, baking and taking of fresh cookies.

A time-lapse condenses time-consuming tasks into a matter of seconds, making it ideal to film food preparation. Plan everything you need for the process, then lay out all your ingredients and implements on a flat surface, ready to begin.

Using a versatile lens like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II enables you to zoom in or out to accommodate your scene, and its 25cm close-focusing distance means that you can get nose-to-nose with the action. Below are three more tips you can use to help you plan a simple, but compelling home time-lapse video.

1. Frame your shot on a tripod

A Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. A woman with multi-coloured hair making cookies.
Using a tripod helps you maintain consistency when shooting a sequence of shots or a video. It offers stability and opens up your creative opportunities for image composition. If the room is too dark, add a continuous light source – it could be a studio light, or just a table lamp.

Your camera will need to be stationary, which means mounting it on a tripod. A high-angle view will capture the action as it unfolds, and zooming the lens out to 18mm fits everything in frame. If the scene is a bit dark, use continuous light – even a table lamp will do – to brighten things up.

2. Tailor your time-lapse

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Select Movie shooting mode if your camera has it. Now press MENU and scroll through the shooting menus to find Time-lapse movie. Choose Custom for full control, and decide whether you want to shoot in Full HD or 4K. We're going to share our time-lapse on social media, so Full HD is perfect – and uses less memory card space.

In the Interval/shots sub-menu, the interval dictates how often the camera takes a frame of footage. Depending on your Video system, which can be changed in the settings, your camera needs 24, 25 or 30 frames for a single second of finished footage. As a general rule, slow-moving clouds need an interval of around 10 seconds between each frame, and faster action like cooking needs about a two second interval.

The No. of shots section sets the total number of frames taken – and it also doubles as a helpful calculator, telling you how long your finished movie will be. With an interval of 2 seconds and 800 shots, we can see that filming for 26 minutes 38 seconds will produce a 32-second clip if shooting at 25fps.

Set the Auto exposure to Fixed 1st frame – otherwise your camera will adjust exposure for each image, which could make the brightness jump up and down. It's also a good idea to switch the lens to manual focus, and focus on the subject's hands or tabletop, to make sure that the AF doesn't jump around while recording.

3. Ready to roll camera

A composite image: left, the back of the Canon EOS 90D showing the interval shooting settings; right, a cookie rising in an oven.
Make sure you've chosen to shoot enough frames to capture the time-lapse until the end of the action.

When exiting the menus, you will be prompted to take a test shot to check the exposure. If you're happy, press START STOP and then depress the shutter to start rolling. The camera will take an image at every interval you've specified; if your action finishes earlier than anticipated, simply press the shutter again to stop recording. Your frames will then be automatically compiled into a ready-made time-lapse movie.

Get closer – make the ordinary extraordinary with macro

Shooting everyday subjects with a macro lens is an easy way to explore creative freedom and make visually interesting images.

Macro photography allows us to look at everyday objects from an entirely new perspective, and your home is fertile ground for finding fun subjects you can shoot. It doesn't matter what it is - a fork, a cheese grater, the fibres in a rug - getting ultra-close with a macro lens allows us to emphasise patterns, shapes and textures to creative effect.

A macro lens, such as the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, is ideal for creative close-ups with its 1:1 reproduction ratio capturing life-sized images. Using a tripod will also ensure your shots are stable, which is even more important when shooting at close distance, as any movement will be magnified.

Macro close-ups can make the usual seem unusual, so choose subjects with interesting features – like the seeds in a tomato or the bristles of a hairbrush. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens' fast aperture means you can work with natural light, though adding external lighting means you can highlight details and backlight your subject – ideal if you're shooting something liquid or transparent.

Here are three key settings you'll want to use to ensure your close-up images are pin-sharp.

1. Touch-focus with Live View and Canon Camera Connect

A screenshot of the Canon Camera Connect App, showing focus selection.
Use Live View or connect to the Canon Camera Connect app for remote shooting and touch-focus capabilities.

When shooting small subjects it can be difficult to achieve precise focus. Working in Live View enables you to work from the LCD screen and see exactly what is in focus – as well as judge how your final exposure will look. Simply tap the screen to set your focus point wherever you want it. Alternatively, switch to manual focus and turn the focus ring on the lens for granular control. You can also magnify the image by 5x or 10x by pressing the Magnify button, to ensure that even the finest details are pin-sharp.

Alternatively, do this remotely, by connecting to the Canon Camera Connect App. Tap the touchscreen on your smart device to choose a precise area of focus. You can also use the app to amend camera settings without having to touch your camera, minimising the chance of introducing camera shake into your images.

2. Manual focus peaking

Focus peaking identifies all the elements of a scene that are in focus using a brightly coloured highlight, as seen on the serrated edge of this knife. It's a quick and easy way to verify that the image is sharp. The green square is the focus assist guide, which appears when using manual focus.

Manual focus peaking (MF peaking) is a feature that can be found on the Canon EOS RP, Canon EOS 90D and many other Canon cameras, which assists you to achieve ultra-sharp focus. If you do have focus peaking, enabling this function will highlight the parts of your image that are in focus by using a brightly-coloured overlay. Activate Live View and press MENU, then scroll through the shooting menus until you find MF peaking settings.

Turn MF peaking on, then choose a colour and level, and the overlay will appear when you focus manually. Choose a colour that contrasts starkly with your subject to make it easier to see what is in focus.

3. Use focus bracketing for amazing depth of field

The image on the left of a slice of pineapple was shot at f/8 – a higher f-number will mean more of the image is in focus but light is restricted. The image on the right of metal rivets was shot at f/2.8, which restricts the plane of focus but lets more light in. By using focus bracketing to compile a sequence of images shot at this aperture, the image on the right is pin sharp.

Shooting with the aperture wide open at f/2.8 will create a wafer-thin depth of field, which can isolate a specific part of your subject. However, if you want the whole image in focus you would normally have to reduce the aperture on the lens – at the cost of losing light. The Canon EOS 90D's focus bracketing function enables you to shoot a sequence of images, then merge them in Digital Photo Professional to achieve greater depth of field even at f/2.8.

With Live View activated, press MENU, scroll through the shooting menus and enable focus bracketing. First select the total number of shots – start with 30, but increase that number if you are shooting something particularly detailed; 100 should normally be enough for macro. Then select the Focus increment (the amount that focus moves between shots) – start at four and experiment. Note that you will need to use Auto Focus for this to work. Now press the shutter to commence your sequence of shots.

Newer Canon cameras have this handy focus bracketing feature. If you have an older Canon camera, don't worry - you can still make a focus stacked image. Open Digital Photo Professional software and you can stack the images into a single image with a wide depth of field using the self-guided Depth Compositing tool.

Picture perfect – cinematic headshots at home

Producing striking portraits at home is one of the ways to both practise your photography and involve your family or housemates. Enable Face and Eye Detect AF for perfect portraits.

Portrait photography can thrive indoors. You don't need access to expensive studio lights or exotic locations to shoot a stunning portrait. All you need is a willing subject and a bit of creativity. Just finding the right pose and a window with a good amount of natural light can be the difference between a good portrait and a great one.

Portraits can be taken with any lens, whether it's a 'nifty fifty', a wide-angle or even a fisheye. Traditionally, though, headshots are taken with a 135mm or 85mm lens, like the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM. This lens is perfect for portraiture as it compresses perspective, and the fast f/1.8 aperture fills your image with light and creates incredible subject separation by blurring even a busy background. Keep the aperture wide open at f/1.8, at ISO 100, with a shutter speed of around 1/125 sec to 1/160 sec. Bear in mind that 85mm is the equivalent of 136mm on a camera with an APS-C sensor such as the Canon EOS 90D.

Here are three more simple ways you can give your indoor portraits extra impact.

1. A room with a view

Using natural light from a window or door will not only brighten the image but add depth.

Just because you're shooting at home, you don't have to place your subject against a wall or flat backdrop. If you have a window or balcony that looks out onto a garden, or even by just opening your door to the outside world, you can add depth and dimension to your shot. Position your subject against the backdrop and, with the tight 85mm crop, the view should fill your frame.

2. Get reflective

Harness and manipulate natural light by using a reflector to bounce light from a window onto your subject.

One of the challenges with indoor portraiture against a window is that your background, lit by daylight, will be much brighter than the room you are shooting in. One way you can balance the light and illuminate your subject is by using a flashgun, such as the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI, which will automatically detect the optimum angle to bounce the light off walls and ceilings for natural-looking results.

An even simpler method, or if you don't have a flashgun, is to use a reflector to bounce the light from outdoors back towards your subject. A reflector can be something as simple as a large piece of white card, or tin foil. The reflector will create soft and natural light, which you can angle and direct just as if you were aiming a flash.

3. Use Picture Styles for creative effect

Use the Picture Styles setting to creatively tailor your image in processing and add impact.

The Canon EOS 90D features both Face and Eye Detection AF for perfect portraits every time, but you can also use the Picture Styles feature to customise the image processing. The Portrait style sets sharpness a step lower to flatter the skin and adjusts colour and saturation to achieve natural skin tones, while Monochrome produces striking black-and-white headshots.

Not all Canon cameras have Picture Styles, but many newer models do. If you don't have Picture Styles as an option, you can simply make these adjustments in Digital Photo Professional.

Written by Jeff Meyer

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