Have you ever taken a picture of something beautiful- a scene, person or moment- and then looked at the result and thought “that doesn’t capture it at all!”? This simple tip will lead to dramatic results for your pictures:
Turn off your flash and use natural light whenever possible
Lighting is a huge part of what makes a good photo, but it's often overlooked because people are so focused on capturing the subject. As a result, they end up surrendering creative control of lighting to their camera. I definitely recommend avoiding use of your on-camera flash. The internal flash of cameras and phones tends to create unwanted shadows and dull-looking photos that have a flat quality. When photographing your subject indoors, try to pick a room that’s brightly lit by a window.
These two photos were taken in the same room. In the first one the subject was on the couch on the opposite side of the room from the window. The second photo was taken in the same room only a couple of moments later. All I did was move myself and my subject closer to the window and no flash was necessary. You can see how the quality of the image is better in the second photo. It captures the contours of her face better and makes the photo come alive. It has a much more natural quality. You can always try moving yourself or your subject to get a better lighting angle. You generally want the light to be shining on your subject (from an angle is nice to get those contours). The only exception to this would be when you want to get a silhouette. Then you simply place your subject in front of the light source. Try experimenting with lighting and angles of lighting to get different effects.
This same rule can apply for artificially lit situations. In the following example the camera recommended flash. There wasn’t much natural light coming into this huge building, but it was still decently lit by indoor lighting. The flash was completely inadequate in this large space. The subjects were somewhat lit, but the background faded into darkness. For the second picture I turned off the flash, which made all the difference. The key was to take advantage of the artificial light in the building.
If there isn’t enough light to get a sharp picture, try increasing the ISO number. This makes your camera more sensitive to available light. If the photo still looks too dark, you can use your exposure compensation to brighten everything up. I’ll be talking about ISO and exposure compensation in future blog posts.