[Update 2008-01-2: RAW package with club-shots for download!]
To get good pictures in bad light condition is easy if you know how to do it. This guide will show you one, easy way with the help of an external flash. You can use your on-camera flash but results will probably not look as soft and as pleasing. It works the same way though. This guide in swedish.
Preparation. All things written here works for most Nikon / Canon / whatever branded flashes / SLR cameras (even advanced point and shooters). I use the Sigma SD14 + a EF-500DG. I like it because of colors and sharpness. You need a flash where you can twirl and rotate the head. (see picture below)
Set the camera in Manual mode (M) – aim the flash straight up and turn the head as seen on the above picture, you should have the white side of the paper aimed at the person you’re photographing. (see abetterbouncecard.com – Mine is heavily inspired by this one). You can use A mode as well and let camera control shutter speed but I like to be in charge.
Aperture. Now I tune aperture to F1.6. I use Sigma 30mm almost wide open so that shutter speeds are durable at ISO100 – if your lens is slower you might consider ISO400 – 800 or even higher – if not you will have to stand still for a second or two just waiting for the shutter to close. I also use F1.6 so that main subjects become sharp and background soft and cozy. See background on below picture.
Shutter speed. When you decided you aperture it’s time for your shutter speed. Now don’t look at the speed itself, look at the under / over exposed information +-0 thingi – you see this in your view finder. The higher this number is, the brighter the background is. The lower – the darker. Darker means faster shutter speed.
Fill light. The main subjects will be more or less the same whatever you select and is controlled by the TTL. I’m often down to -2 or even lower because I want main subjects to stand out a bit more (see picture below).
Above picture was a misstake and I used in camera Jpeg. I suggest you use RAW in order to get the most out of every picture. Click for higher resolution.
I always use ISO100 – this to get punchy living colors and perfect sharpness down to pixel by pixel level. You never know what you might wanna do with these pictures and it’s always nice to be able to print really really big.
Assist light. Whatever flash you use – a good assist light is of great importance. If you have it, it will work automatically. Without it you can forget using fun lenses such as the 30mm. remember that at F1.6 focus is extremly narrow and it’s cruzial that focus hits the eyelash and nothing else. (Focus on the eyes to get the most pleasing results. Lucky for us ladies paint them for us!).
Experiment. If you wanna go wide you can use a lens such as the 10-20 and shoot at F4 and 2-8s – that will give you cool colors and fancy dancing, you need to be quite stable though seconds are loong time and don’t bring a tripod.
Also try to hold still for a moment and the quickly move away, that’s what I did to get this blue trike above her face. (below picture) Shutter speed 1.6s at ISO100 and F1.6.
White Balance / LCD. I use Sun White balance on the SD14 because it gives the most pleasing results on the LCD. And this is VERY important. If it looks bad on the LCD you will not get an OK from the person. Doesn’t matter how good you’re in the computer since they don’t know that. Later I adjust colors in my raw developer, SUN WB is a great starting point. Sunlight and flash is very close in temperature.
Articles including lots o photos and some more info: