Don't let far flash foible leave your subject in the dark: Fix the Pix, Episode 12

Your flash has limits. Here's one of them, and how to work around it.

Have you ever shot pictures of a ballgame or a concert at a stadium or arena—or just across a room—and were disappointed to see...not much of anything?

Today's Fix the Pix photos were made with a Ricoh CX1.

Blame it on your flash. It has a limited range, and the farther you are from the subject, the less effective your flash will be. How limited? On a typical point-and-shoot camera, your flash will only illuminate subjects within 10 feet or so. Zoom out and the range is even less, since your lens lets in less light when in its telephoto setting than when in its widest angle setting.

Hello? Anybody there? I shot this picture in subdued light similar to the kind of light you might find in a sports arena or a restaurant with "mood lighting" from 15 feet away. That’s around 5 feet farther than my flash is capable of reaching at ISO 100. Imagine how dark a subject would be if it was 150 feet away on a stage or on a basketball court, for instance!

What to do? First, turn off your flash. Increase your ISO, turn on your camera's anti-shake, and do the best you can with the existing light. If it's still too dark and you're getting shaky shots, then you probably won't be able to take pictures in that situation.

I increased ISO to 800—more than I usually dare—turned on Image Stabilization, and shot away. The image is somewhat grainy, but at least my subject's properly exposed. Sometimes, you have to compromise.

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