Sunday, March 13, 2011

pointing & shooting: why a better camera doesn't necessarily mean better photos a.k.a. I hate pop-up flash

So, in this installment of P&S, I don't actually have any photos taken with a point & shoot camera. Disappointing, I know. But what I am going to show you is how you can have a nice fancy camera and still take terrible photos.

Flash is your friend, but only if you know how to use it. And that means bouncing, diffusing, and other things I won't be getting into today. Is the pop-up flash on your camera your friend? Well, here are two photos you should see.

This first photo was taken with my Canon 60D and a Sigma 28-80 lens. I flipped the mode over to "Auto" and low and behold, because it is in the middle of the night and the lighting in my house is rather low, the flash popped up. And this photo was captured:

"What a cute dog!" You might say upon seeing this photo. "I mean, I think she's cute. She looks pretty creepy!" Oh, friend, I concur!

Also, I promise I took that photo with my camera. My $1000 camera (plus lens, which is on loan so I'm not sure how much it cost) took that terrible photo. A nice camera does NOT automatically mean you will take nice photos.

I switched it back over to manual and captured this photo:

Yes, so my dog isn't so creepy. She just likes to pose funny for photos. Can't blame the camera for that one! Best photo I've ever taken? Definitely not. It's the middle of the night and I have very little light to work with. (And an apathetic subject.) Better than photo #1? Yes.

Lesson: Just because you spend a thousand dollars on a camera, doesn't mean your photos will look like it. If you currently own a DSLR and want to learn how to take nicer photos, my number one piece of advice is quite simple really: read the manual that came with your camera.

If you're reading this and thinking, Well I don't have a DSLR!, just try turning your flash off. Your camera might have a "natural light" setting. Or just go over to a window where some pretty light is being let in. Try that this week and let me know how it works for you!


Okay, I decided to add some photos taken with my point & shoot camera. Both photos were taken in AUTO mode. There was absolutely ZERO editing done to either photo (with the exception of adding words). I didn't change the ambient light (i.e. I didn't turn any lamps on for the 2nd photo). All I did was turn my flash off.

It's dark. I'm missing details, like underneath her chin. But I still definitely prefer this photo over the first one. She looks cute instead of mangy and hateful. Also, I kid you not, after I took the photo with flash, she rubbed her eyes with her cute little paws. Bella hates flash too.

So, now its your turn to take better photos! Upload some photos to your blog that have been taken WITHOUT flash and link to your blog here. I can't wait to see them!!

Also, if you have any specific questions about taking pictures with a point & shoot, email me and I'll try to cover them in future installments. :)


Teri Coleman said...

I have to say I very quickly discovered with what was my new digital camera at the time (about 5 years ago) that the flash over brightened my pictures So although I still on occasion take 2 pics with and without the flash generally the ones without are better even if I need to lighten them a little in my editing suite because with the flash things change colour and you get funny casts. Would love a digital SLR but that still has to be in my dreams :-( Thanks for the post though it's good to know this is the same on other cameras and that light is not always good :-)

fraukuech said...

Yep! Definitely the same for me. I got one of the finest p&s cameras I could find and it still takes pretty terrible photos with flash. So it's not just you :)


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