Photographing interiors requires great flexibility as you need to be able to quickly switch from one technique to another, depending on the amount of available light.
Individual displays are sometimes lit with spotlights intense enough to allow the camera to be hand-held. Generally, though, light levels are too low to photograph interiors hand-held without increasing the sensor’s ISO rating or switching to a faster film, using flash or mounting your camera on a tripod. Be prepared for all three situations.
Craftsman making parasols in workshop in Myanmar by Richard I'Anson
In many places flash and tripods are prohibited, so there’s no choice but to increase the ISO rating or put away your camera. If flash is permitted, remember to keep your subject within the range of your unit. The main advantage of a tripod is that you can shoot at your preferred sensor setting or continue using fine-grain film, and achieve the exact amount of depth of field that you require.
Nun attending candles at Stone Gate Shrine in Croatia by Richard I'Anson
Most interiors are lit with incandescent light. Digital photographers can let the camera’s auto white balance correct the colour to record the subject as the eye sees it. Standard film however is balanced for daylight and records incandescent light as a yellow-orange colour cast. The actual colour and strength of the cast depends on the type and mix of artificial lights. This can be quite acceptable, and even pleasing, as it creates ambience and shows that it was taken indoors.
If you want to record the colours more faithfully, use an 82 series colour conversion filter or tungsten film, which is balanced for such conditions. Unless you plan to take a lot of pictures with tungsten film it’s impractical to carry on your travels.
Mustafa Centre shopping mall in Little India, Singapore by Richard I'Anson
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography by Lonely Planet photographer Richard I'Anson.
More great tips for Richard I'Anson in Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography