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In our new ASK US series, we had our first great question from Ale about shooting interiors, and choosing the right depth of field for the shot:
“I am trying to improve my interiors photography. My question is regarding aperture. I know that I need to go higher with my aperture number to get more in-focused depth of field. However, is there a rough guideline on where to start on an average size living room? Are we talking F9, F11, F22? Also, I have seen a lot of “noise” in some of my shoots. Have been using an ISO of 400. Is that too much? Or might there be another reason?”
Great questions, Ale! Choosing the best aperture really comes down to the overall style/feeling you want your photo to have. In my opinion, wide interiors shots of large spaces warrant a deeper depth of field in order to get as much in focus as possible. Unfortunately, there is no defined guideline to help you choose your f-stop, because it is all relative to the distance objects have from each other. For example, you might be photographing a living room that looks into the kitchen. The distance between the couch and the kitchen counter will be different from one house to the next. Also, your angle to both objects will make a difference, too. Start around f/11, and increase your depth of field, as desired.
There are many instances you might want shallow depth field for interiors, particularly when you are featuring one element in the room, or a detail. F/2.8-f/4 are usually favorites for me when I shoot details.
If ISO 400 is creating too much noise, try to keep it at ISO 100, and use a tripod. Whenever shooting interiors, I recommend using a tripod and using the self-timer button, or a cable release. (Or tether to a computer!) You will likely be at very slow shutter speeds and even triggering the shutter-release button could produce a shaky image.