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by Mary DeHaven

Reprinted from DIGITAL Photographer, a bimonthly print magazine.

Taking Better Nighttime Digital Images

If you already have a digital camera (aka digicam) with a liquid crystal display (LCD), you know all to well the problems viewing the screen in bright sunlight, especially at the beach when photo opportunities are at a premium. Framing a shot of a washed-out image is a challenge.

Conversely, have you been presented the occasion to wield your photographic skill at a nighttime event? Perhaps, you haven’t yet discovered the obstacles your digicam’s LCD screen offers in low-light situations. Depending on your digicam model, you may find that it’s equally difficult seeing your image in a dark room or on a real sunny day.

Of course, there have been attempts to provide some solutions. Some manufacturers have made sunshades for the LCD screen, and this has helped. Nighttime situations, however, hold bigger challenges, and making the job easier can be more than just a shot in the dark regarding taking better nighttime digital images.

One sure way to address any LCD framing situation is to buy a digital camera with an optical eyepiece, or viewfinder. Yes, you have to go back to the regular camera basics and look through a viewfinder instead of on the LCD screen that has become so handy when setting up your shots.

Another way to help with potential LCD framing problems is to purchase a digicam that offers manual controls in addition to automatic features. Any extra cost of a digicam with manual controls and optical viewfinder will pay for itself later with better images taken in extreme situations. However, even without manual controls, there are devices to employ, if you just some ingenuity.

Setting Up The Image for taking better nighttime digital images

Shooting Photos In The Dark

Naturally Digital – Available natural light and a correct white balance setting on your digicam are often all that you need to capture an effective photo. Before taking your shot, always be sure to assess your needs (the final use of the image) and your situation – look around for immediate resources, such as additional light, another vantage point. The best way to learn is to experiment in a variety of lighting situations–to be taking better nighttime digital images.

After you have decided to shoot a scene with or without people, there are some basic things to remember.

You may want to use the built-in flash. But before you do, ask yourself how far away is the subject you wish to shoot? If your flash only covers a distance of 4 feet or 5 feet and the distance to your subject is greater than that, don’t expect adequate illumination of the scene. We have all witnessed people at an event in an auditorium trying to take pictures from the back rows using a flash. They actually expect to get a good image, only to find out otherwise. Your built-in flash is only good for an average distance of 4 feet.

Another consideration when using a flash–watch out for backgrounds or objects that will reflect the flash’s light and cause a white spot in your pictures. This is true using a regular 35mm camera, as well as a digicam.

Don’t expect your digicam to be able to read a distance that is a factor you will control. Learn to walk-off a 4-feet space from your subject to see just how far you can depend on your flash for its illumination. The beauty of a digicam is the ability to take lots of images and experiment with different lighting and setups without paying for processing, as with film.

To read the rest of this article please go here: Shooting In The Dark: The Challenges And Rewards Of Low-Light Digital Imaging