don't flash me!

Another request for a "tip"...so here we go! Here's the best one I've learned so far. Turn your flash OFF. When you see someone in real life, you are looking at them with ambient light filtering all around them. When you use a flash (at least the pop-up one that comes with your camera), you're flashing a bright light directly at their face. A little harsh, and a LOT unflattering.

Later this week, I'm going to re-do these pictures for a better illustration. I only had about 10 minutes to take them before picking up child #1 at school. This will be my new "project"... better pictures to illustrate 'flash vs. no flash'. And you know I LOVE a project! For now, these will have to do.


When, WHEN???!! will I remember to white balance my camera when I'm in my kitchen! OK, so the color isn't perfect here, but you get what I'm saying, right? See how harsh Livia looks in the first picture (and not too cute, I must say). The 2nd picture looks softer; more like you'd see her in real life.

Now let's try Drew. This isn't the perfect "after" shot either. But you see the difference in the light, right? Flash - yuckiness. No flash - more flattering.


See how the flash "lights" the face in a very unnatural way? It makes the face look very flat and washed out. Almost 2-dimensional (especially in Livia's picture). By using NO flash, you see the natural shadows and contours of the face. More 3-dimensional, in my opinion.

I mentioned this in the previous post, but try this:
Choose AV mode.
Dial to the SMALLEST number you have.
If it's too dark, raise your ISO number. (Not too high, remember, or it will get grainy). On my particular camera, it looks bad if I go higher than 400 for photographing people; even though it allows me to go up to 1600.

There's a lot more to it than that, but play around with it a bit and see what you get with this in mind. To do it, you need plenty (LOTS!) of natural light. If you don't have enough light, your pictures will be dark and awful, and you'll get really frustrated! My kids are in the kitchen, facing a sliding door. This won't work in a dark room. In my entire house, I have probably 2 "good" rooms. It can be hard to find good light, depending on your house. Get them right up in front of a window if need be. Facing the window, that is. No backs to the window!

For all you "pros," I know I omitted shutter speed; but that's a whole balancing act. I'm trying to keep it as simple as I can. If your pictures turn out blurry, your shutter speed is too slow. If your room is too dark, your shutter speed will be too slow, and your pictures will be blurry.

If you have questions, I'm thrilled to help! I cringe when I see the awful pictures I've been taking for the past 8 years. Remember, I'm a beginner too, but I'll try to help if I can!

**Do not try this at night!! There is no natural light (obviously), and it will not work!! Wait until daylight, and get up next to your brightest window! Let me know how it turns out! :-)


Tracy said...

I did mess with my apreture settings this afternoon and turned off the flash...I had to be in M mode (I don't have AV...M allows me to mess with aperture shutter speed etc)...my issue was as follows, I could go low...and I mean SERIOUSLY low...but everything was completely washed out...I played and got a good balance but then had blur...so I guess I need to play with my shutter speed too? and how do you know when to play with white balance? enough questions for you? :)