Great Outdoors Photo Challenge Indoors

#OurGreatIndoors Photo Challenge

Video (2:42)

A few weeks ago I came across Erin Sullivan’s, @erinoutdoors on Instagram, #OurGreatIndoors project. Many of us are currently confined to our homes and this project served as a fun creative escape.

The goal was to create an outdoor scene using items found in your home. I have always had a love for macro photography and I was personally inspired by this idea. In hopes of inspiring others, I decided to document my journey to create some of these images.

A behind the scenes look

I had an idea in my head and the only thing I needed to purchase were the tiny people I needed to make the scene come to life. Everything else were things found around the house. It was fun sifting through drawers, closets, and other places to try and find the perfect pieces. When I found something that would work in the scene it was like finding a gold nugget. It certainly helped to have access to all of my son’s little toys and crafts.

As I ventured around the house I began assembling the scene in my living room. I put up the baby gate and started to build the landscape. My wife didn’t even ask. 

Michael used the TV to change backgrounds and he used images from his photo library
Michael used the TV to change backgrounds and he used images from his photo library

Set images

Northern Lights Beach

One of the things I wanted to incorporate into the scene was one of my own images as the backdrop and rather than using a print I wanted the flexibility to swap it out to create different moods or effects. So, I used my TV. I mirrored my iPhone to my Apple TV and using SmugMug I was able to access my images quickly. It was cool to be able to dramatically change the scene by just swiping on my phone.

I had my Canon 5D MarkIV  (ROBERTS) with a 100mm macro lens (ROBERTSon a tripod and two LED light sources. One is a larger ring light and the other being handheld LED light that I could easily change the color of by putting construction paper over it. I even made a sun ball to try and create some reflections.

Back to the beach
Back to the beach

The surface of the water was a serving tray that I think we received for our wedding. I know it was buried in the back of the upper kitchen cabinet so it was fun to resurrect it for this project. I taped light blue construction paper underneath so I would allow a little of the blue to pop through. It was pretty amazing how the glass ended up looking like waves in the final images. The sand was kinetic sand from my son’s playset. It worked great because I could shape it how I wanted and it was super easy to clean up. 

The set was actually fairly simple even though it may look complex at first glance. When shooting macro photography the smallest adjustment with a light or camera move can make a very drastic difference. This excessive is a great way to practice and learn how light would fall in real-world situations. 

Sample Images

Overall, this was a great way to stretch the creative muscles and I encourage you to give this project a try. Be sure and tag your images on social media with #OurGreatIndoors. Try stepping out of what you might be accustomed to shooting and have some fun. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions or want to share any images you create reach out to me on my Instagram @instadurr.

Thank you. 

Publisher’s Note: I encourage you to try this assignment to make your own and share it on the PXL community and PXL forum, Thanks Michael for the cool idea. Kevin Raber – Publisher &CEO


Michael Durr
April 2020
Michael Durr
Indianapolis, IN

After studying broadcast journalism at Illinois State University, I began my career in Central Illinois creating commercials and on-air promotions for local television affiliates. From 2008 to 2012, I worked for The Marketing Store where I created content for clients such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Southern Comfort. From there, I worked for Maddock Douglas, an innovation consulting firm, developing an internal photo/video offering. I left Maddock Douglas to be a creative director at FÁS Chicago, where I worked primarily for Case Construction. In 2017, I relocated to Indianapolis with my wife and two sons and I have started Michael Durr Photo/Video, LLC. Currently, I work in partnership with Kevin Raber and PhotoPXL, creating video content on all things photography. In addition I work on other freelance projects primarily around the midwest. Throughout my career, talented friends and great mentors have surrounded me. I have been fortunate to wake up every day never feeling like I was going to work. The combination of my professional experience, personality and drive to improve has given me a unique perspective from behind the lens. It is a combination of work and life that inspires me.

Article Type: Tutorials, Columns, Videos, MISC

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