Saturday, December 26, 2009

Get Pro Results with a Compact Camera

Hi All,

To celebrate the publication of my new book, Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter (which is also great for entry-level SLR shooters), I will be posting some tips from the book over the next few weeks.

Here's tip #1: When shooting indoors in low light, you actually can get pro results with your compact camera . . . but you have to make pictures rather than simply take pictures.

Check out the images in the top row (from left to right):
- Boring flash shot with harsh shadows;
- Flash shot with flash bounced off the ceiling . . . an improvement;
- Fill flash shot. Ahhh, that's much better! Here's the technique:

• Mount your camera on a tripod;
• Set your camera on manual;
• Set the correct manual exposure;
• Attach an accessory flash and bounce the light from the flash off the ceiling.
• Oops: In my original post, I forgot to mention to turn on all the room lights. As you can see (by looking at the lights behind the model and by looking at the reflection in one of the pictures on the wall), the rooms lights are on.

In the bottom row of pictures, you can see that I actually used a Canon G10 and Canon 580 EX for the photos. I confess. :-)

I have since upgraded to the Canon G11, which offers improved image quality.

These pictures were taken at the Alexander Hamilton Hose in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, which is one of the sites we use for my Hudson River Photographic Workshops.

Hey, if you have a compact camera question, please post a comment here on my blog. I'll get to it ASAP.

Explore the Light,
P.S. For my professional work, I am currently using my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D. For my gear recommendations, click here.


craniac said...

Great tip but what can you do if your camera doesn't support an accessory flash?

Anonymous said...

Now what would you do if you didn't have a funky flash on hand and have to make do with the lil camera one?

Rick Sammon said...

Hi Accessory flash-less compact camera owners.

Canon offers a very small flash - the 720 EX - that features a swivel head.

If your camera does not take a flash, you can soften the light for a more pleasing photo by using the official Rick Sammon compact camera flash diffuser technique: hold a napkin over the flash :-)

Al said...

Looks like two flashes, at least, and an amber or gold gel in one or both, or perhaps a gold reflector involved. So one flash had to be triggered remotely.

Rick Sammon said...

Al... that is the beauty of the technique!

The room lights help to illuminate the scene... which is why it's called fill flash. The gold color is from the lamps (several) in the room.

Daniel Fealko said...

"hold a napkin over the flash"

Or, carry a small white cloth with you. If you also take a few colored ones, you can add some slight color to the flash. One with a golden hue would add some warmth to the fill, but test the colored one first.

Rick Sammon said...

Danile... even better! Thanks for sharing.