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How to Prevent Dull, Washed-out Point-and-Shoot Photographs

Part of the Photography For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Photography involves making adjustments to get the perfect picture. Even if you’re a point-and-shoot photographer, you can fine-tune things to get more colors in your photos. The following list contains two of the most common causes of dull color, lack of detail, and flat gray or brown tones and what to do about them:

  • Symptom: Can barely make out the main subject in a flash picture taken at night or by artificial light (such as in a sports stadium).

    • Cause: Subject was too far away for the flash to reach.

    • Solution: Get closer to the subject (within 15 or 20 feet), if possible. If not, turn off the flash and use a faster film (ISO 800) or set a higher ISO (if your digital point-and-shoot allows this).

  • Symptom: Colors are washed out, tones weak in a nonflash shot taken in dim light.

    • Cause: Film did not receive enough exposure to light.

    • Solution: Use a faster film (ISO 800 or 1600). Or, if the subject is close enough, set fill-flash or slow-sync flash mode.

Other problems may be due to photofinishing errors; you may have to ask the developer to reprint the photo.

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