When you don’t have enough light you need the use of flash photography equipment to help you with your photography basics picture taking. Any digital camera whether it is DSLR or compact or mobile camera works under the same principal. They all need good lighting condition for a good photo taking.
For a mobile cameras, there is not much choice when it comes to lighting. Though some models do carry a mini flash they are more like for emergency photo taking. You need to get in close for the light to have some use.
For compacts, the flash power is much better; however you still need to know its range, which is rather limited. It can extend to about 2-3 meters for the flash to cover your subjects. Bumping up the ISO on a compact camera would cause the photo to become very grainy, though there are some models that are specially designed for low light photography.
Of course the best of the lot would be digital SLR cameras. Using the digital photography basics build in flash though would beat all of the above; it is still not entirely the best flash photography unit to use for illuminating your subjects. However if don’t have an external flash photography unit, then this is what you have to rely on.
For more powerful illumination requirement, you will have to invest in an external flash photography unit. In my case, I bought a Canon SpeedLite 580EX II. There was a cheaper version available, the Canon SpeedLite 480EX, about half the price of the 580EX model. However the 580EX has more power and has the ability to become master/slave to another 580EX unit. If you have friends or family member with the same unit you can combine the two units for better lighting of your subjects.
Flash digital photography units are vital for use when taking wedding reception photos where lighting in a bouquet hall is less than sterling. That’s when the use of external flash photography units comes in handy to cover the shots.
The problem with using flash photography unit whether it is compact camera or digital SLR camera has one big problem. The firing of the flash can produce a very “hot” photo. Your picture can look harsh, you might get uneven illumination, colours may come out differently, and the photos don’t come out in a warm tone.
Compacts are notorious for this, but they don’t have any other choice as the build in flash can only fire in one direction — forward. However on some compact models you can adjust the power settings of the flash, but most people would not bother to fiddle with this detail and take the shot and hope for the best. Still you still get mostly hot photographs. You could try sticking some matt scotch tape or place a tissue over the flash to diffuse the flash and muting the power
On a digital SLR, using an external flash photography unit would give you a lot of flexibility. The head unit can be swivelled about. Instead of pointing the flash photography unit directly onto the subject, you could shoot it up to the ceiling and let the light bounce back for illumination. This would produce nicer balance lighting. The power settings of the flashing unit could be adjusted if the picture turns out to be dimmer or brighter. The amount of adjustment required would also depends on how high the ceiling. The higher the ceiling, the less illumination you would get. It can be a big issue when taking wedding night photos in a bouquet hall where the ceilings are high. In open spaces light beach wedding photos, then such a technique cannot be used and alternative method of diffusing the flash photography unit will have to be considered.
There are many types of diffuser available in the market, some very weird looking ones too! They all have the same idea of not having the flash photography unit firing directly onto the subject.
The silicon cover is a good all rounder for diffusing the flash. It caps over the flash photography unit and you could also consider pointing straight to the subject with some caveats; like you have to power down the flash power. Though shooting straight on to the subject is still not a good technique.
I call this the Red Indian diffuser! It looks really funny with a semi-transparent front and plastic piece strapped to the flash photography equipment unit. However this works better than the silicon cover and it still can be used even if you tilt your camera to portrait position provided there are no nearby side walls to bounce back and end up with extra side lighting, which may create an effect that you might not want.
Finally, you may decide not to use any diffuser at all and just point the flash elsewhere as long as it is not firing flashing to the front. This works well when there are walls around to bounce the light about.
Do note that when bouncing the flash from walls or ceiling, if the colour of the walls or ceiling is not white, especially the strong colours, it will change your lighting colour creating a different tinge to your flash photography.
Taking photography in dim lighting condition is a challenge and many a time the photos will not turn out right. Of course for a prepared shot you can control how to balance the lighting to produce a good photo, in candid spur of the moment photography the lighting control would be that much difficult.