Saturday, November 04, 2006

Alternative to using the flash

When taking photographs, especially of people, and especially indoors, it is quite natural to use the built-in flash on your camera.

Don't do it.

The flash generally leaves a "shine" to your subject that makes it look like an amateur took the photo, which most likely is the case. But you can make your photos look great without using the flash and creating that "snapshotty shine."

Bump up the ISO. Most new cameras have a manual adjustment for the ISO setting. The ISO setting in a digital camera mimics the ISO of film in a film camera. Rather than having to change film, however, the digital solution is much cheaper and easier.

Generally speaking, you should always shoot at the lowest ISO setting possible that renders the best image. Usually, this is ISO 100. Shooting at an ISO of 100, versus at 800, for example, introduces comparatively less noise. But today's digital cameras are very good at the higher ISO settings. My Canon Digital Rebel XT shoots very good pictures at its highest ISO setting, 1600.

Here are two pictures. One was shot at ISO 100 with the camera's built-in flash, the other at ISO 1600 with no flash. See how the picture with the non-flash, higher-ISO setting looks more natural? By the way, there has been no manipulation of either image; the output of the camera was not altered in any way.

ISO 100, built-in flash

ISO 1600, no flash

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