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Images, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography Discussion of all things graphics.

Photography: flash/no flash and focusing


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gary61071

 
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Hello everyone,

I have an issue with this topic on my Kodak Easyshare digital camera. I can get great pictures anytime I have the flash on. But seems like everytime I turn the flash off, the pictures turn blurry. This especially happens whenever I take pics indoors. Every now and then depending on how much sunlight is in the room, the background turns somewhat dark, or just heavy shadows, when the flash is used. If I turn off the flash, the lighting looks great just how I want it, but the subject is out of focus. This happened with my previous digital camera too. Any tips on how to prevent this?

An example: we went to a wedding over the weekend. I took some pics during the ceremony using the flash. They came out kinda dark. I'm guessing because the bride and groom were pretty far out, perhaps beyond the flash's range, so they didn't get lit up by it, therefore the dark photo. I turned the flash off, the lighting was decent, but the subjects were out of focus. It really annoyed me. My camera has an auto focus feature: you press down halfway on the shutter button, you see on the screen a red box which signifies a focused subject, and then press the button down all the way to snap the photo. But with the flash off it's still blurry. Anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

Thanks!

"Of course I'm serious. And stop calling me Shirley."
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AConfire

 
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Alright I'm going to try and sum this up and hopefully it's not too long but most importantly I hope it helps...

I'll start with the first problem: Blurry pictures.

Point and Shoot cameras (like your Kodak) really depend on the flash for support. If you are in any low light area, your shutter speed will be fairly slow, so you will either need to use a tripod, or hold as still as a statue Due to the shutter speed being slow, even the most light movement will cause your picture to come out blurry. But there are ways to go around not using the flash, but you sacrifice quality. You can look through your camera's menus and see if you find anything titled "ISO" it might be called "ASA" but I doubt it. Basically, in terms of 35mm Film photography, ISO/ASA is how much light is allowed onto the film. In digital, it's almost the same thing. Higher ISO let's in more light, but will create a lot of grain in your photo as you increase your ISO. But again, this will work with the shutter speed to make it a bit faster so you wont get a lot of blur, if not any.

So really, you are much better off firing the flash, unless your outside, and it's sunny with a lot of light. Then you don't need to use your flash.



Next: Darkness during light areas.

Dark areas in photos are created due to several factors.

A) There might be shadows over your subject.

B) You might be shooting against the sun or large light source. This creates a silhouette on anything in front of the sun or light.

C) If your subject is at a distance, or there is a lot going on in the single frame at distances (i.e. shooting from one end of a church to the other), there will be intense shadows and dark areas due to the flash and it's flash compensation/range. Like you said yourself, if it's not in the range, it just won't be able to light it up and will create dark areas.



Next: Focus problems.


You are focusing correctly, but what you need to do is lock your focus. The depth of field for a picture is interesting and depends on your cameras lens opening (aperature.) I don't want to get to technical here, but if you want your subject to be in focus, here are the steps:

1) Move your camera and point at your subject.

2) Hold the shutter release button half way as you normally do.
2a) keep doing this until the focus box is around the subject you want in focus.

3) Keeping the shutter release held, move your camera until your subject is in the location that you want.

What this does is it locks whatever it first focused on, so you can then move the frame until your subject is in the location you want on the photo.

So basically...


[ - ]
^ focus there and hold the shutter button.

[ x - ]

^while it is still held, move the camera until the subject is at the appropriate location in the photo.

x = original location
- = new location

Whew'. Hope this helped you out and feel free to ask any more questions.

All the best,
-AC



View my photography blog Here!
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gary61071

 
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Thanks for the tips AC. I'll print this out and learn up on it.

With an artist's background, I do understand composition, and I try to take that into account when taking pictures. I realize the Easyshare is mainly for general picture taking, but for more advanced studies I should invest in a better camera, like one with detachable lenses and such. With the advice you provided, I hope to shoot some better pics with what I have. Thanks again.

PS: At this wedding we went to, I was watching the pro photographer some. He had a rig with a flash attachment that looked like it was on an arm that went around 3 sides of his camera. I think he was able to hold the camera on that arm like a handlebar and snap the shot with his other hand. The odd part - to me anyway - he had the flash pointed upwards, well above the subjects. So in a sense, he was using the flash, but not having it pointed directly at the subjects. What's the idea in that, going for a softer light as opposed to a harsher light to prevent glare and washout?

"Of course I'm serious. And stop calling me Shirley."
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taygull

 
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He is pointing the light up so it will bounce off the ceiling, this will help reduce the harsh shadows behind people. He was using a flash bracket, this gets the flash above the camera to help reduce redeye, it also allows him to rotate the camera and still keep the flash above the access of the lens thus not having those horrible side shadows.
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Village Idiot

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary61071 View Post
Hello everyone,

I have an issue with this topic on my Kodak Easyshare digital camera. I can get great pictures anytime I have the flash on. But seems like everytime I turn the flash off, the pictures turn blurry. This especially happens whenever I take pics indoors. Every now and then depending on how much sunlight is in the room, the background turns somewhat dark, or just heavy shadows, when the flash is used. If I turn off the flash, the lighting looks great just how I want it, but the subject is out of focus. This happened with my previous digital camera too. Any tips on how to prevent this?

An example: we went to a wedding over the weekend. I took some pics during the ceremony using the flash. They came out kinda dark. I'm guessing because the bride and groom were pretty far out, perhaps beyond the flash's range, so they didn't get lit up by it, therefore the dark photo. I turned the flash off, the lighting was decent, but the subjects were out of focus. It really annoyed me. My camera has an auto focus feature: you press down halfway on the shutter button, you see on the screen a red box which signifies a focused subject, and then press the button down all the way to snap the photo. But with the flash off it's still blurry. Anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

Thanks!
Nothing mainly.

It's just the nature of the beast. Unless you can put your camera on a manual mode and meter and adjust settings, you're going to continue to have this problem.

When you're using the flash, you're getting two exposures; the first is what the shutter speed and aperture are set for and the second is what is captured when the flash flashes.

It might take a bit to understand, but if you're inside, the auto metering is going to set your shutter speed pretty low to get any ambient light. This means that the shutter stays open longer and any movement causes blut and camera shake. Although you may think you're steady, you're not going to be steady enough. But when the flash triggers, it freezes anything with what is caught for it's duration. Smaller flashes have faster durations and can stop motion much easier that trying to photograph with a slower shutter speed.

And as far as the silhouettes, they're created when you have a bright background and the camera meters the light from the background and not the subject.

Cameras don't have an infinite dynamic range, and actually it's pretty low in comparison to what the human eye sees, so they can only record so much from one point of brightness to the next. If you have a huge change in the brightness of a scene, not all of it will be captured, just what the camera meters for.

Chaotic Evil, Level 1 IT-Tech

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Village Idiot

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary61071 View Post
Thanks for the tips AC. I'll print this out and learn up on it.

With an artist's background, I do understand composition, and I try to take that into account when taking pictures. I realize the Easyshare is mainly for general picture taking, but for more advanced studies I should invest in a better camera, like one with detachable lenses and such. With the advice you provided, I hope to shoot some better pics with what I have. Thanks again.

PS: At this wedding we went to, I was watching the pro photographer some. He had a rig with a flash attachment that looked like it was on an arm that went around 3 sides of his camera. I think he was able to hold the camera on that arm like a handlebar and snap the shot with his other hand. The odd part - to me anyway - he had the flash pointed upwards, well above the subjects. So in a sense, he was using the flash, but not having it pointed directly at the subjects. What's the idea in that, going for a softer light as opposed to a harsher light to prevent glare and washout?

This may be way over your head at this point in time as it's a site for photographers with some basic experience as far as exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc... go, but if you start reading, I'm sure you'll be addicted.

www.strobist.com

Look up the lighting 101 series from the drop down on the right and go from there.

Chaotic Evil, Level 1 IT-Tech

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AConfire

 
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No problem. Glad I could help.

The ring flash around the lens is ideal for macro photography, but it works wonders in portraits and what not.

Good luck with your camera and future photography



View my photography blog Here!
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gary61071

 
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Member Since: Dec 26, 2007
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Thanks for all of your input.

"Of course I'm serious. And stop calling me Shirley."
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