Photo therapy for cabin fever

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re spending most of your time at home these days, thanks to the Coronavirus. It’s pretty easy in those circumstances to start feeling cooped up.

Luckily, photography gives us some treatments (if not a cure) for cabin fever while waiting for the worst of the pandemic to burn out. If you’re on Facebook, I’d recommend joining Joe Edelman’s Tog Chat group — while this group normally focuses on fashion / portrait photography, Joe’s opened up the admission criteria for the duration, in order to support what he’s calling the “Stuck at Home Photography Challenge.”

The best part is, you really don’t need any new or particularly expensive gear to participate — just your camera, and things you likely have around the house. I’ll show you some of my contributions to date as examples.


I really haven’t done as much with light painting as I would have liked to — so this was a good opportunity to play with my RGB flashlight. We moved homes last summer, and in the process we gained a larger (unfinished) basement — I’ve turned a corner of it into a workshop / office / photo play area.

Co-orbital light traces

For this one, a garage or open room would do as well (any open place you can darken easily) — you just need a short tripod, a colored light(s), and some string. Hang the light(s) from the ceiling, and swing them around when the room’s dark. I’m an Olympus shooter, so used my camera’s Live Composite function for this, but you could do something very similar with your camera if it’s got a “Bulb” mode. If you don’t have a colored flashlight, grab a small flashlight and experiment with colored “filters” over the front of it — candy wrappers, plastic bags that once were packaging, colored tissue paper, your imagination is the limit!

Still life with microwave

I wanted to find something around the house that would make a good abstract image — at the time I was making a cup of coffee, standing directly in front of our kitchen’s microwave. Presto!

As with the first photo, you don’t need much to do something like this — your microwave and a light or two, preferably colored (but you could use plain flashlights and mess with the color in your photo editing software). Here’s what my setup looked like:

Just close the microwave oven’s door and you’re ready to shoot!

Green Eyed Peas

For this one, I wanted an image with a smooth range of tones. It occurred to me that my wife had bought some black rocks to cover the dirt in potted plants, so I put them to work along with a bit more light painting.

Again, you don’t need anything special to do this. I used a mini tripod, cable release, and the tray from our kitchen’s toaster oven; the only “extra” gear I brought in was a cheap multi-color light wand — it cost all of $13.

So if you’re getting a bit bored looking at your home’s walls, grab your camera and start playing! Some kinds of photography won’t work well indoors, but abstracts and macros / close-ups give you all sorts of room to play.