Do not be afraid of the flash. Did you know that even on the brightest, sunniest day, you can still use your flash as a tool to fill in harsh shadows? It is true, and professional photographers refer to this technique as fill flash. This technique can be especially useful when natural shadowing blocks and/or interferes with the clarity of the subject of the photograph. Digital photo restoration services see this type of photo problem often, particularly when scanning an old negative, taken before flash photography was available. You, on the other hand, have no excuse not to make use of the fill flash technique, and doing so will greatly improve the quality and clarity of your photos.
Bounce the light. This can serve as a caveat for the above tip, because while it is important to fully utilize your cameras flash, it is just as important not to overuse it. Just as photo restoration and slide scanning pros see many instances of under use of the flash, they see just as many instances of on camera flashes pointed directly at the subject, instead of the shadows around the subject, and this causes glare and hot spots that can easily ruin your picture. It is also important to make sure that the flash is not overexposed in the background, since this can lead to overly bright spots. Whenever possible, the experts recommend pointing the flash towards the ceiling, since the burst of light will bounce off and fall down on the subject, and this technique is what is known to the pros as bounced light.
Clear the background. It is important to make sure that nothing in the background is distracting, although this can create unintentional humor; professionals always make sure that that their backgrounds are calm and that they complement the subject, for best results.
Avoid direct sunlight and seek out open shade. Bright sun causes people to squint, resulting in closed eyes and harsh shadows. If shooting your photos under these conditions is unavoidable, turn your subject(s) in such a sway that the sunlight comes from a 45 or even 90 degree angle, and use a fill flash for the shadows. If you can, take photos involving people in bright, shady spots, since the colors will be brighter and the glare will be lessened.
Remember sometimes the perfect photograph only comes along once in a lifetime, so make sure that you take your photos, old and new, to a company that provides photo CD services, in addition to slide scanning and digital photo restoration options.
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