Do you have any tips for shooting indoors in the winter?
During the winter and the holidays, we spend more time indoors. The days are short, the weather is colder and we attend more social gatherings indoors than we would in the summer. Frequently this means we will be shooting more group photos of our friends and business associates. To capture these group photos, we generally make greater use of the wide-angle end of the zoom range in our cameras. Here are a few tips for shooting indoor group photographs.
How wide is the lens?
When we speak of how wide a lens is we are talking about the angle of view. In digital photography, we compare the equivalent focal length in terms of 35mm photography because users can more easily relate to the equivalent angle of view from their experience with 35mm photography. A “normal” 35mm focal length lens is generally considered a 50mm lens with an angle of view of about 50 degrees. A specification for a zoom lens on a point and shoot camera might be written as
5.0 – 35.0 mm (28-196mm equivalent in 35mm photography)
The equivalent millimeter values may vary from camera model to camera model because all cameras do not have the same size sensor relative to the actual optical focal length of the lenses. Since 50mm is accepted as a “normal” focal length, anything shorter than 50mm equivalent in 35mm is wide and anything longer than 50mm is telephoto.
Because of the compact size of point and shoot cameras, the flash may not have enough power to fully light group shots using wide angle photography because it may be necessary to back up to fit the group in the picture. If your camera has a P (Program) mode, select a higher ISO to increase the flash’s effectiveness. Also use the Redeye Reduction flash mode. If you are posing a group, press the shutter button halfway down to get an autofocus lock, then press the shutter button all the way down to get the shot. It never hurts to ask people to be still and get a posed group shot rather than a candid shot, because there will be less likelihood of someone having an awkward expression in the picture. You can always shoot more than one shot. The larger the group, the more likely someone will have their eyes closed when the flash goes off.
Autofocus is not infallible. Autofocus requires a degree of contrast which may not be available indoors, such as at a dark restaurant. In iESP autofocus, the camera may decide to select its own autofocus point based on the brightest thing it sees in the picture, such as a white tablecloth. If the camera has an option in the menu to select SPOT autofocus, use that indoors. Then the camera will focus where the autofocus frame is positioned on the LCD screen instead of selecting its own focus area.
The FACE DETECT feature may not work when shooting large groups, because the camera is looking for a pattern that resembles a face, and at a distance it may not be able to recognize such facial patterns. Here again, it may be best to use the SPOT autofocus option.
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