Shooting tips > Capturing Beautiful Party Photos

Level: Beginner

LESSON 13Capturing Beautiful Party Photos

Insufficient light makes it difficult to capture beautiful photos of indoor parties and celebrations in dim environments. Here, we introduce some techniques for capturing what you see.

Capturing What You See

When shooting indoors in low light, generally the camera’s built-in flash fires to prevent blurring. However, when the light from the flash directly illuminates the subject, the light can reflect in such a way that the surrounding area can appear relatively underexposed, giving the image an unnatural look, as shown below.

Illuminated with a flash

Not illuminated with a flash

First, let's try shooting without using the built-in flash. Start by selecting [Anti Motion Blur]* in Scene Selection. In Anti Motion Blur mode, six photos are continuously captured each time the shutter is released, and these are superimposed, one on top of another, to reduce noise. You can capture areas with less noise (compared to shooting with Intelligent Auto) and high sensitivity, and a fast shutter speed is set. In addition, moving subjects and the background are identified and superimposed, one on top of another, so you can shoot while controlling camera shake and subject blur.

  • * This may be located elsewhere other than in Scene Selection, depending on which camera is used.

Capturing one photo (subject blur)

Anti Motion Blur mode

However, because Anti Motion Blur mode is an auto capture mode, the color tone and brightness that are explained in the next section cannot be set. To change those characteristics using the white balance and exposure compensation functions, shoot in A-mode. When shooting in A-mode, open the aperture as much as possible. If blurring still occurs, try shooting while manually increasing the sensitivity.

The section above explains how to shoot without using the flash. If blurring still occurs when using this technique, use the flash. Change to P-mode when you do this, so you can change the color tone and brightness, which are explained in the next section.

Adjusting the Color Tone

Color tone is crucial for capturing what you see and can be adjusted with the white balance function. First, let's try shooting with the [AWB] white balance setting. With AWB, the camera automatically adjusts color tone according to the scene, but sometimes the color tone determined by AWB doesn’t match what the naked eye sees. If this happens, fine-tune the white balance. When shooting under warm-colored lighting, try adjusting the white balance toward amber (A) to capture the warmth that you see.

Image appears bluer than what the naked eye sees

White balance adjusted toward amber

When the Subject Is Not in Focus

The camera comes with an autofocus (AF) function to automatically focus on the subject, but AF can be less than ideal for dim, insufficiently lit scenes. In this case, you can try either of the following solutions.

AF Lock

AF makes it easy to focus on bright or strongly contrasted objects. So when the focus is not on the subject that you want to capture, look for a brighter object, such as food or an object under a spotlight. The key is to look for an object that is the same distance away from the camera as the subject that you want to capture.
When you find a bright location, point the camera at that location, adjust the AF, point the camera again at the subject that you want to capture while maintaining AF, compose the shot, and press the shutter button to take the shot.
In the default setting, a half-press of the shutter button activates AF, so point the camera at a bright location, half-press the shutter button, and once focus is achieved, compose the shot while continuing to half-press the shutter button.

Manual Focus (MF)

Another technique is to use manual focus (MF) to focus on the subject that you want to capture. When [MF] is selected, you can adjust the focus manually by turning the focus ring on the lens.
However, camera settings and focus adjustment with MF take time to get used to. If you are interested in shooting with MF, try MF in advance.
Also, the way to switch from AF to MF varies according to camera model. See the User Manual or Handbook for details.

Using an External Flash

We have introduced several shooting techniques that do not use a flash, but you can capture more beautiful photos with the original feel of the scene intact with bounce flash photography using an optional external flash.
Bounce flash photography involves illuminating the subject with indirect light that is bounced off of a wall or ceiling. The light is gently diffused, creating a more natural image by reducing unnatural shadows and shine on faces that often occurs when using the built-in flash to directly illuminate the subject.

Directly illuminating the face with a flash

HVL-F43M

Compact powerful flash that also supports bounce flash photography for vertically-oriented shooting

Bounce flash photography with external flash

HVL-F32M

Compact bright flash with LED light that supports movie recording

  • * Usability of available external flashes varies according to the camera model used. Check that the external flash is compatible with your camera model prior to purchasing the equipment.