It is not always easy to evaluate the proper amount of lighting for photo composition. Because of this I notice a lot of people use the built-in camera flash to compensate when pictures are too dark.
I do not want to be seen as a “kill-joy” or “professional guru” when I write this, but here it goes: “It is better to leave your built-in camera flash off and use an added floor lamp or other “natural” lighting for proper exposure.”
Adding light does not mean you are required to use oodles and gobs of lights, rather to concentrate the cumulative light on your subject.
Here are some suggestions on concentrating light.
- Take a strand of clear miniature Christmas tree lights (150+ bulbs) and lay them in an orderly “heap” near and partially under your subject. This creates a warm glow of light on your subject.
- Set-up the shot in-front of a window facing the sunny side of the house and use a reflector to reduce the harsh shadows behind the subject.
- Using a light-colored bed sheet provides a uniform background and at the same time reflects some light to reduce harsh shadows made by the light source.
- Use a reading light or floor lamp, positioning it toward your subject for more direct lighting. If it is too harsh, diffuse it with a thin piece of fabric or white reflector. (NOTE: Be careful of colored fabrics so as not to unwittingly color your subject the wrong shade of purple!)
- Flash lights are another good option for adding light. They may also need to be used in tandem with a diffuser.
The reason that pictures turn out better 99% of the time without the built-in flash is this: The flash is too close to the camera lens giving the wrong lighting angle. Thus using other forms of lighting prompts us to find the best defining angles for our subject.
This is another reason that professional photographers will turn their hot-shoe flashes to bounce off of a surface near the subject.
It is important to have fun while experimenting with lighting and do not feel pressured to use conventional equipment!