Some basic points:
We talked about The Exposure Triangle. Here’s a good article.
Most people can’t hand-hold at less than 1/60th of a second — the picture is blurred by your own movement. Some ways to make up for this in low light situations:
- Tripods — from big to small — gorillapods come in all sizes.
- On a tripod, a time-delay shutter will help to avoid the jiggle from you pushing the shutter release
- Brace yourself to stand still, and hold the camera close to your body
- Brace the camera against anything — table, doorframe
- Rapid fire multiple shots, if your camera can do this — the middle shot is likely to be the clearest
You DO want to pay extra for image stabilization (IS) — in the camera (point and shoot) or the lens (dSLR). It makes a difference!
We began talking about exposure compensation — many cameras allow you to bump the exposure up (brighter) or down a little (darker) while basically staying in automatic mode. The images with this article demonstrate the results. The easiest cameras to use are those with a dial for this, like the one shows here, but many small cameras have this somewhere in the menus.
On-camera flash is to be avoided if at all possible because
- It usually only works for about 10 feet or less;
- You often end up with a too-bright subject against a too-dark background;
- That kind of flat, straight on light is ugly (and makes people look ugly!)
You can use a simple piece of paper to diffuse the camera’s flash so you don’t get such a deer-in-the-headlights effect. (Thanks, Bryan!)
The one time it IS useful is for filling in dark places in the image — notable, shadowed faces.
(In the 2nd example, below, the flash isn’t actually on the camera but coming in from the side — but this demonstrates the idea.)