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Fill flash with point and shoot cameras

by Daryl DeVault

Tired of dark eyes and harsh shadows in your outside pictures?  Most point and shoot cameras available (both film and digital) have the ability to override the auto flash systems.  One would normally think that when you are taking pictures outside you have plenty of light.  Well you do, it just isn’t pleasant looking light. 

  • If you are taking pictures with the subject looking into the sun, usually all you get is that "squinty" look.

  • If you shoot with the sun at the left or right side of the subject, you get really harsh shadows.

  • If it is directly overhead you get shadows under the eyes and chin.

  • Last if you shoot with the sun behind the subject, you normally get a flat, underexposed look that is not very flattering.

The answer is simple... Just turn on the flash.  Usually there is a "flash on" position on the cameras.  The sunlight is so bright that the flash does not override it.  What you get is a highlight in the eyes, and a reduction in the shadows on the face.  Stay close to your subject.  Most of the flashes won’t reach out very far.  Usually they don’t go more than three to four feet.   It’s even better if they have a hat on. Then their eyes are not squinting from the sun and the FILL FLASH takes out the shadow. 

What about cloudy days you ask?  Well it even works then too.  The FILL FLASH adds some normal color back into the person’s face (eliminates the blue look from the overcast sky) and puts that sparkle (highlight) in their eyes.

Remember...  When you are outside taking pictures of people, especially close ups, TURN ON THE FLASH.

Improving Holiday Photos

The days ahead will be loaded with opportunities to get candid shots of special significance to you and those close to you. This year, make a special effort to capture the spirit of your unique holiday celebrations. The year-end holidays traditionally provide us with meaningful subjects, decorative background, and interesting lighting conditions; all ingredients for spectacular candid shots and spontaneous portrait sessions.

Candid Shots
For good candid shots be unobtrusive. Let the action unfold naturally. Catch a genuine look of surprise or pleasing smile as they happen. Find a good position where you can wait for the right moment, then raise the camera and get a quick shot. Put the camera aside until you are forgotten, then do it again. Don't try to stop the action while you take a picture. Your subjects will be happier for not being interrupted and your photographs will be more genuine. Leave the 'say cheese' smiles for someone else.

Informal Group Portraits
Don't miss the opportunity for informal group portraits. This is often the only time of year when an entire family can be assembled for a group shot. Don't be shy in organizing the group shots.

Those who grumble and resist now, will undoubtedly be asking you for copies later. People have a tendency to close their eyes when they smile. Take several duplicate shots to make sure that you get at least one good one.

Pay particular attention to special groupings of people. Consider the significance to a grandparent in a photograph of all their grandchildren together.

Watch the back ground and use seasonal decoration to your advantage. For instance, center your subjects in front of a decorated fireplace or window. 'Center' is the key word here, half a fireplace or part of a window will cause your photos to look off balance.

Remember people who are not present by taking some shots that will be of interest to them. Later in the year you will have something special to slip into a letter or card.

Available Light
Candles, colored lights, fire-places are light sources that will add interest to your photographs. Try a timed exposure or combine flash with existing light for interesting effects. You might get a shot you can use on personalized greeting cards next year. Don't be afraid to experiment. Bracket the exposure if possible to increase your chances of success. It is always fun to see how these sots turn out. If it doesn't work, no harm done and you might learn something from the experience.

Shoot a test roll of film and have it developed now to make sure that everything is operating properly. Check out your flash unit and include some flash shots on your test roll. Remember to stock-up on film and fresh batteries. Ask us about the high-speed color films, they are particularly well suited to lighting conditions.

© 2008 - Bruce Gibson maintains
This content is provided by Bruce Gibson. It may be used only in its entirety with all links included.

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