A couple of days ago, I volunteered to take pictures at a fundraiser dinner at my husband’s high school. I knew that the event was going to be dimly lit, so I came armed with my flashgun and my 50mm f/1.8 lens – a fast lens great for this kind of low-light situations.
At first, I tried to go for it with my flashgun, which totally killed the ambiance even with the reduced output. Of course, a better photographer would have probably managed to to pull it off by operating the flash remotely or by setting the output values manually, but that’s just too much technology for someone like me. Next, I half-heartedly tried turning off my flash and opening the aperture way up, but the amount of blur and the resulting nasty yellow cast were absolutely unbearable. I then put away my flashgun and resorted to my favorite, trusty trick – popping the camera’s much-maligned build-in flash.
I wasn’t at all surprised that this proved to be a winning tactic, both preserving the ambiance and filling in just enough light to eliminate the blur and some of that ugly yellow cast without washing out the scene (see examples below).
And so amen I say to you, go forth into the world and don’t be afraid to use your pop-up flash where a flashgun is too much and no flash is not enough. Just be sure to turn down the output, make liberal use of exposure compensation, and be careful not to stand too close to your subject (almost typed “target”).
Note: While the above pictures were pretty good, I treated them additionally with the Elements’ cast-removal function – always a good idea for pictures taken in any kind of low light conditions. I also turned up the ISO in those shots. I don’t really mind a bit of noise – to me it looks like texture.