Leave the red-eye at home when taking photos with your digital camera

Built-in camera flashes are convenient, but they can produce deadly results--from red-eye to a nuclear-looking, unnatural glow--when used to take pictures of people in low-light situations, such as evening parties. The easiest way to low-light shooting success is to get an external flash, but that's not always practical. So we'll explore some of the common […]

Built-in camera flashes are convenient, but they can produce deadly results--from red-eye to a nuclear-looking, unnatural glow--when used to take pictures of people in low-light situations, such as evening parties. The easiest way to low-light shooting success is to get an external flash, but that's not always practical. So we'll explore some of the common settings on digicams, then talk about advanced techniques with an external flash.

Red-eye reduction mode: Avoid using this setting. In theory, using red-eye reduction mode makes sense: shine a bright light in the subject's eyes before exposure to constrict the iris, thereby reducing the chance of reflected red-eye. But it doesn't work out that way. Flashes are annoying anyway, and torturing your subject with additional flash before taking the shot tends to kill spontaneity. Plus, even after you do that, you'll often still get red-eye. It's just not worth it.

Nighttime flash mode: Use this setting for artistic shots. The thinking here is that the camera slows down the shutter speed, allowing you to capture background scenery beyond the flash range, yet the flash still goes off, illuminating subjects within 10 feet. It usually works quite well, but things get crazy if you don't hold the camera really steady or if there's a lot of movement in the scene. So you'll get some absolutely great shots with artistic flair, and you'll get some failures. But it's definitely worth experimenting with. This control is also referred to as slow synchro flash mode.

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Flash, Exposure, Red Eye, ISO, Shutter