Using Flash For Proper Exposure


While digital cameras have certainly made the world of photography a more enjoyable place, one trouble spot still remains: the difficulty of taking great pictures in a low-light setting. Knowing how and when to use the flash is crucial for overcoming this thorny issue.

The biggest problem with low-light photography is blurring due to camera shake – the slower shutter speeds required to properly expose your photos make getting clear, sharply focused images nearly impossible without using a tripod. The problem is, a tripod might not always be available when you need one.

The answer lies in the effective use of a flash – either the camera’s built in flash unit, or even better an external flash.

Using the flash outdoors

If you are outdoors in a low-light environment, you should first try to use your digital camera’s Nighttime picture taking mode. In nighttime mode the camera will adjust its settings for you and automatically activate the flash unit at the appropriate time.

If you are unhappy with the results using the Nighttime mode, you can manually set the camera to use Slow Synch Flash. This will result in the flash unit firing just long enough to light up a subject in the foreground while keeping the shutter open long enough to gather a bit of the background light as well.

An outdoor memorial scene without using the flash…

And the same scene with the flash.


Using the flash indoors

Indoor photography under low-light conditions presents an entirely new problem: White Balance. Before you do anything else you need to make sure your digital camera is set to the White Balance setting that matches the type of lighting in the room.

While an appropriate White Balance adjustment will reduce color problems due to unnatural light sources, some color cast will still often slip into the image. If so, try to bring at least some natural lighting into the room by opening drapes, blinds and doors. Every little bit of natural light will help, often enough to make a huge difference.