My house is too dark (and other lies you believe…)

Okay maybe “lies” is harsh but it made a catchy title. 😉 And when people say “my house is just too dark” they really do believe it. Why? Well, because it looks dark. And maybe it even is dark. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get gorgeous light.

All you need is a little bit of light with some direction to give you a beautiful image with great dimension. A perfect example is a window with just a small stream of light being let in. Here are a couple of examples:

My bathroom. I wouldn’t say it gets much light. But it gets nice light in one tiny little spot. Now I try and capture things as they are without adjusting the scene too much. But somehow the image of the bath toys sitting next to our toilet in next to no light doesn’t exactly feel magical or memorable in anyway. I do want to remember things as they are. But the way things look to our eyes isn’t always how they look in our mind. I’m willing to break the photojournalistic rules to get a shot of Isla’s bath toys in some nice light while still staying true to the environment and not actually changing anything about my subject.

Shot #1 is pretty much how the bathroom looks to my eyes. In shot #2 I have walked into the bathroom so I’m closer to my light source which is bouncing around a tiny bit so the room looks brighter. Just a little bit though.


This is where Isla’s bath toys actually are. But the light and the angle just don’t help me tell my story and don’t highlight the toys at all. You have to look all over to even find them. I don’t work for the Associated Press so guess what? I’m altering my scene like it or not! 😉


Here is where I placed my object.


The resulting image – one I really like! (And before you say, but my crop sensor can’t handle high ISOs… this was shot at ISO 320. You can do it!)


Another example… the hallway as you come into our house is not well lit but it does get some beautiful light streaming in from some frosted glass.

Here is basically what it looks like to the naked eye.


These two were taken against the wall to camera right when looking at the first image. Not a lot of light but way more than enough. And a beautiful quality of light which is what matters much more than the amount.


This shot was taken on the opposite wall with the door obviously open allowing in more light, still not a whole lot, but still directional and enough so that Isla and I were both at least partially in light.


These images were taken at ISO 1250 so high-ish but nothing too crazy!

I hope this was helpful – now go find that light! 🙂


  • Amy Brownridge - Love all these! too funny you posted this today- I was just letting myself off the hook for th day because its such a gloomy, dark evening. thanks for the push to go snap a couple! ReplyCancel

  • Michele Kendzie - Thank you for this post! It’s very helpful, as I am still shooting with a Rebel and learning to find the light. Plus, right now we’re experiencing a third day of non-stop rain!ReplyCancel

  • Emily Shaw Lapish - This post ROCKS. Seriously, I love how you explain this! ReplyCancel