Monday, August 15, 2011

Take Better Photos ... Turn Off Your Flash

I worked outside for a little while yesterday morning, on a project for the sewing room that I will show you soon.  After lunch, the sky was threatening to storm again, so I changed gears and came inside to rearrange and organize the sewing room a bit. 

Alice followed me, as she always does when I go into this room.  She usually begins by winding around my feet begging to be picked up.  After a suitable amount of hugging, I put her down, and she finds a cozy spot to relax and watch what I'm doing.  Yesterday, her spot was on top of some needlepoint in one of the cubbies of my wall unit.

She looked perfectly content and posed in there ... very photo worthy.  My little camera was in my pocket (you already knew that, didn't you), so I pulled it out and snapped a quick photo.  I didn't realize that the flash was turned on, and this was what I got ... a perfect example to show you why you should NOT be shooting direct flash if you want to get a good photo.

with flash

The most obvious problem is that Alice's eyes are electric, glowing yellow ... as the flash reflects through her pupils and illuminates the inside of her eyes.  The flash makes everything in this photo bright and harsh.

I quickly turned off the flash, and snapped another photo.

without flash

Isn't this one a lot better? 

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to a small amount of editing to both of these photos using PhotoShop.  On both photos, I adjusted the levels to moderate the shadows, and I did a tiny bit of color correcting because my camera makes photos a bit too blue for my eye.  (Sliding the color balance 5-10% toward the yellow usually fixes this perfectly.)  I sized the photos to 640 pixels on the long side, and I sharpened them ... like I do with all the photos I publish.  Nothing to radically alter them, just enough so they display well on a monitor.

The next time you're taking photos inside, turn off your flash and see what you get.  You may need to use a tripod to keep your camera steady for the slower shutter speeds necessary in lower light, but I can practically guarantee that you will be happier with your photos.

If you try this, be sure to let me know how it works for you.


  1. Pretty kitty! Yes, sometimes I just open up all the curtains in the house and let the outdoor natural light flow inside to be my flash. Flashes make photos so harsh looking. Good photography tip!

    (I saw greyhounds up for adoption at our local Petsmart yesterday and thought of you)

  2. Oh cutie pie! Yep, I learned a while back through the blogging community to turn that flash off. Also learned that with some editing even bad photos can be turned into good ones!

  3. Thanks for the tip. What a gorgeous kitty.

  4. I would give Alice a cuddle if I were there. Love how they find the cubbies and fabric to snuggle up on. I agree turn off your flash. I have a couple of areas that I photograph that are just so dark even in the daylight I use a flash but mostly I turn it off. The photos are so much better for sure. I also do a little editing on mine. Good job. hugs, Linda

  5. My sun room would be the only room I could even try to go without a flash. My house is like a tomb.

  6. I have to find time to start fooling around with Photoshop! It just looks like so much fun!

  7. Yes... no flash!
    Direct flash takes all the depth out of a photograph, and does awful things to eyes!
    You can even take photos in quite dim light, and use photo software to add light to them, and sharpen them up. It's not perfect, but way better than flashes!

  8. Thanks for the tip, Connie. I agree.

  9. What a pretty girl, Connie. :) Don't you just love the way cats find the most interesting places to nap...? lol! Thanks for the tips, too. It sure does make a huge difference in photos!

    xoxo laurie

  10. I'll have to give this another try. My house is just so dark from all the trees that I can't imagine not using the flash. But since you said it's better, I'll certainly try it and doctor them up in Photoshop.

  11. I have the same cat!!! Only mine is never as well groomed as yours - lol.


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