Photo mama post – To flash or not to flash, that is the question.

So it’s no secret that I don’t like using the flash on my camera.  I’ll be at a family function after the sun has set and take a photo.  Almost predictably, one or all of my subjects shout “your camera didn’t flash!”  That’s when I tell them that “I don’t like to use flash.”  Why?  Because it makes photos look horrible.  Unless of course you get a lightscoop or a good speedlite and learn how to bounce it, etc…which is a whole other post…  Flash, in my opinion, is close to the devil.  It makes photos look unnatural.  Too many times I have seen a great photo opportunity ruined by the firing of the flash.

That said, shooting at night without a flash is tricky.  At times, it can seem darn near impossible.  One thing you can do (on any digital camera) to help with non-flash photos is to bump up the ISO (set it to the highest number).  I am not going to even to try to explain what ISO is or how it works – because I hardly even understand it myself – but I will tell you this:  It helps in a low light situation.  The down side?  Your photos are going to have grain.  To me, I will take the grain knowing that I do not like the result of a flash photo.

Another thing you can do is widen your aperture.  You might be thinking – “um your what?!.”  Like I said in this post, I am not a professional.  Aperture is another tricky thing to explain.  It describes how wide your lens opening is with an f/stop.  The lower the number, the wider the opening.  f/1.4 is a lot wider than f/8.  The wider the opening in the lens, the more light that you allow in.  The down side?   If you have a moving subject you are going to need to watch your shutter speed or you are going to have a lot of blur.

This is the trifecta of photography; the relationship of the ISO, the aperture, and shutter speed.  I hope that you find this helpful when moving forward with your photography journey but after writing this I have a feeling that I may have confused you even more.  Take peanut steps – maybe try messing around with your ISO first and then work on the aperture and shutter speed.

Some low light non-flash photo examples:

Have fun playing!

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