Don't Let Flash Kill the Party

One of my favorite party photo opportunities is the cake shot. And there's no faster way to ruin the image than with an overzealous flash. So when we lit the candles to celebrate the 13th birthday of these twin boys, I pulled the compact Canon S90 from my pocket, set the mode to Low Light, and let the camera take it from there.

Face Detection really helped me tame the situation. Not only did it set the focus accurately, but you'll notice that the exposure and white balance were corrected for the boys' skin tones. It's fun to watch how the camera figures out the lighting, then makes the appropriate adjustment. The dominate light source was tungsten, which the camera identified. The byproduct of that correction was the bluish background from daylight outside. If I wanted, I could pull down that blue tone in post production, but I left the color balance alone in this shot so you could see how the original image came out of the camera.

Canon S90 set in Low Light mode (on the mode dial) with zoom at 28mm. ISO 1600, 1/60 at f/2.0 (Click on image to enlarge)

Once again, this is where the ability to capture with high ISO makes this all possible. Otherwise, the shutter speed would be too slow to freeze the action. So when possible, try existing light. And if the environment just won't let you go down that road, then it's good to know you can add supplemental light as needed.

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