Thursday, April 2, 2009

Using Your Point and Shoot Like a Pro - Part 2

(photo by inertiacreeps via flickr)

Lens Flare reader Barbara gently reminded me that it's been a while since I started this series, and she has been patiently waiting for a part 2. Barbara, your wish is my command!

Part 2 of using your point and shoot like a pro - how to avoid flash blow out. I guarantee if you have used the flash on your point and shoot while taking a picture at night, you have experienced flash blow out - that crazy bright light that pretty much ruins the photograph. I mentioned in Part 1 of this lesson series that one way to take better photos with a point and shoot is to just turn off the flash entirely, but there are situations where no flash just won't work. The problem is that for most point and shoot cameras, the photographer doesn't have much say in how much light is used.

So, courtesy of Digital Photography School, here are 7 strategies for avoiding flash blow out:

1. Take a step back - put some distance between you and the subject of your photo
2. Try and diffuse the flash - place something opaque right over the flash to soften the light, such as tissue paper or vellum.
3. Redirect the flash - try using a card to bounce the light onto the ceiling or a wall near your subject (this will obviously take some practice, but this is what people with fancy SLR cameras can do with an external flash...)
4. Try "Night Mode" - some point and shoot cameras have this option, allowing for a slow shutter speed and flash to be used. Check your owner's manual.
5. Decrease flash output - again, you will need to check your manual, but many point and shoot cameras allow for you to dial back the intensity of your flash.
6. Add light - if possible, see if you can move your subject to an area with more ambient light, or just turn some lights on for the picture.
7. Experiment with shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings - another visit to the manual for this tip. I've previously discussed shutter and aperture on this blog (click here to review) so in a nutshell, slower shutter speed and/or a low aperture number (i.e. f4, f3.5, etc.) will allow you to take pictures in lower light situations, possibly without even using your flash. Also, a higher ISO setting can help with low light situations. Remember though - once you slow down the shutter speed you will need to hold VERY STILL to get a shot that isn't blurry.

As always, my dear readers - email or comment with any questions. Happy flashing (hahaha)!


Barbara April 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM  

I get a lot of bright or blurry... a lot of my winter photos end up terrible because of the lack of natural light (dark when I leave for the day, dark when I come home) So I'll have to practice these tips.

Thank you for continuing this!

Melissa April 3, 2009 at 8:05 PM  

Thank you for reminding me - when I got my SLR back I sort of forgot this series, but I think it's important.