Unless you normally wander around with two or three external flashes to balance your lighting, your more than likely just using whatever your camera came equipped with. While this does mean some limitations, smart use of your flash can turn less than optimal shooting environments into viable opportunities and not like the pictures so many of us where we look ghoulish while the rest of the room disappears into obscurity that seem to line our family albums. If you’ve already taken control over things like the exposure settings and the camera’s sensor gauging the room’s available lighting before taking your shot, the on-board flash can help you optimize the amount of light your camera is recording, and slow down any action you might be trying to capture.

When shooting in poorly lit conditions you can even out the amount of light available in the space – typically a room or indoors – but will need to diffuse the light emitted by your flash because they typically fire out in a direct burst that blast the subject with light – and is the reason people can look so brilliantly lit. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to use clear tape. The membrane will serve as enough of a filter that the light will be diffused through your shooting area. But these flashes are usually only good out to about ten feet, and the reason why much of the surrounding subject matter can appear to be in darkness. The tape will help with this, but you’ll also need to be mindful of what’s going to be in the shot when you’re composing it because you’ll always be limited by this range. However the flash can also serve you in situations where there seems to be too much light behind the subject. Using your flash here can let you capture a picture that would otherwise have turned out overexposed.

And finally there’s using it to slow down movement and allow your camera the chance to record a sharper image. Of course this means taking out your manual and figuring out how to turn off the auto-flash. But trust me, you’re ten times smarter than the camera when it comes to figuring out the best times to use it. Experiment a little, and you’ll be surprised at the range even a simple point-and-shoot has to offer.