Digital cameras sometimes make taking photos a little too easy. Line up the subject in the viewfinder, check the image on the LCD screen, and click the button. The flash goes off exactly when it should… right?
Sometimes. Learning more about digital photography lighting can help you decide when to trust the camera, and when to trust your own judgment. Below we’ll talk about the different camera settings and accessory options available, and also how to use Mother Nature to your advantage.
Most of the digital photography lighting you need is already built into your digital camera. Get to know your flash – look up its maximum range. If your subjects are standing beyond its reach the photograph will turn out too dark. Most internal flashes work best between 10 to 15 feet.
Besides range, most point-and-shoot camera flashes can add digital photography lighting in via their fill-in flash setting. A fill-in flash is a quick burst of flash to light dark areas in the photograph. It can be used indoors, or outdoors in bright sunlight. The fill-in flash heightens the contrast between colors.
Compared to film cameras, digital cameras don’t capture the difference between light and dark as well. So for digital photography lighting, external flashes are important when shooting during nighttime, outdoors, or whenever you want more finesse than you can get from your built-in flash because they offer both automatic and manual controls.
They increase flash range, and also get rid of the red-eye effect sometimes seen with built-in flashes. Professionals prefer external flashes for all of the above reasons.
Artificial and Natural Lighting
Not all digital photography lighting has to involve a flash! Pay attention to the way sunlight falls on your subject from all angles. Incorporating some shadows by shooting a flower at a diagonal, for example, can add a layer of interest to an otherwise commonplace photo.
But watch out for sunshine that’s directly over your subject if taking a photo of a person. This can create deep, dark hollows under their eyes and along their mouths. Either wait until the sun is lower in the sky, or hold either a reflective or bright white piece of cardboard under their chin to counteract the shadows.
Artificial lighting, like that given off by fluorescent office lights, needs a different correction. In these circumstances you’ll want to adjust your camera’s white balance setting to either ‘fluorescent’ or ‘incandescent’. This prevents color distortion.