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Photography Question 
Erin Watsona

Better indoor lighting

What do I need to make my indoor pictures come out better? The lighting never seems right. I have the Canon Rebel digital SLR EOS XT. Good camera, bad operator. I have heard of strobes and reflectors but I don't know what to use for everyday indoor photography. Pictures come out with a redish tint and too dark especially in the backround.Help?

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12/28/2005 11:54:59 AM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  you could start with a better lens, a smaller f number like 2.8 or 1.8 but most of all get a speed lite... I use the canon 420EX on my XT, but there are some great ones made by Sigma and Sunpak. The kit lens isnt too great with indoor lighting but is good for bright, outdoor light. You can also bump up the ISO to 400 or 800 and see how that goes. Do you shoot full auto or do you use manual settings?

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12/28/2005 12:28:39 PM

Bob Fately   Well, Erin, the reddish tint is due to the lights in your house having tungsten filament type bulbs (that is, regular plain old lightbulbs). While our eyes cannot tell, the fact is that different light sources have different color properties - like flourescents with their sickly green or purplish hues. The camera senses this, however, so you should change the white balance setting to "indoors" or 3400K or whatever the camera calls for (I don't use Canon).

Now, did that make sense? If so, forget it all if you want to add light by using an electronic flash. Flash units are designed to be "daylight balanced"; that is, you should set the camera to daylight or 5000K or whatever, the same as it would be set for outdoor shots on sunny days.

See, the dark parts of the pictures you are taking obviously aren't getting enough light - so that's where flash could help. And another term for flash is strobe, just so you know (strobe lights from the disco days and electronic flash units on cameras both use similar Xenon-filled flash tubes, thus the name strobe from way back when).

You no doubt can find a flash unit (made by Canon or perhaps Metz, Sigma, or other companies) designed to work with the EOS automatically. These units literally read the light coming back from the subject and kill off the flash tube when the exposure is proper - sometimes within 1/30,000 of a second or less. Like magic, eh?

Reflectors and other add-ons to flash units can help make the lighting less harsh - I recommed the Photojournalist II from Gary Fong, but Sto-Fen and Lumiquest (both of which I also have) are good units as well.

Well, I hope that helps you get a start with things...

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12/28/2005 12:31:35 PM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  yeah... what Bob said!
great advice.

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12/28/2005 1:19:54 PM

Kerry L. Walker   First, I would like to expand a little on what Bob said. A camera flash is, as Bob implied, an adaptation of a strobe light, which pre-dated the Disco Era. As a kid of the 60's (well, an old coot now) I was using a strobe (what we called a flsh then to differentiate it from a flash bulb) long before that horrible time in the 70s when that danged Disco temporarily shoved my beloved Rock music to the back burner.

Secondly, the problem you are having (and will continue to have to an extent) with the background being dark is due to the dearth of ambient light. Adding a good flash will indead brighten the foreground subject but will make the background even darker unless it is well lit and/or you drag the shutter (shoot at a lower speed than the maximum sync speed of your camera). Get a good flash, made by any of the manufacturers Bob mentioned and experiment with the shutter speed. I think you will be happy.

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12/28/2005 1:33:43 PM

Darren J. Gilcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/1/2005
  Hope you don't mind me butting in. I've been thinking about getting a flash too. Could anyone explain the guide numbers in short so I have an idea what I need. I'm not doing weddings but am thinking of going to a motorcycle show this winter and would like a flash that could reach out far enough if some of the bikes are roped off? Thank you.

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12/28/2005 3:07:12 PM

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