Everytime I need to use the flash (particularly if the background is plain and light in colour) I get a false ghost shadow everytime. Am I doing something wrong or is it the camera? I have tried to use the SCN functions and if the light is insuffient, without the flash, the image comes out blurry.
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It sounds like your camera is under exposing a little. If you can, shoot in "raw" mode, and adjust in the software the camera manufacturer provides. Other things you can do: adjust the white balance for the lighting, override the camera's exposure to get more light, use flash, etc.
Your camera is setting its exposure to your subject, which if it's darker than the background will cause the background to over expose. You need to set the exposure to the background which then will cause your background to be properly exposed and your foreground or subject to be darker. With a point n shoot camera, accomplishing this might be a difficult task. But if you expose to the background and use the fill flash, you should then get your properly exposed image.
"Forced flash" is when you force the flash to fire even if the camera thinks there's enough light to photograph without it.
As an example, consider taking a photo of a person outdoors with the sun coming from one side and casting half the face in shadow. By forcing the flash to fire, you can illuminate the shadowed portion without affecting the background.
You get a picture with sharp and correct colored parts as well as parts blurred with wrong colors?
I assume this only happens indoors, when you use the flash?
It sounds like you are using Slow Synchro flash mode.
Try switching the flash mode to Auto instead.
It sounds like your colour sensor is having issue deciding what colours should be what. To test this, take a picture of something else white, first try something large like a cloud or a white pillow from close up, see if it comes up black. Then try something like an egg against a different colour background, something skin toned would work best, or use yellow. If those come up white, you've got me stumped, but it is likely they will appear to be black.
So, the problem doesn't seem to be the flash if the actual subject in
the foreground is exposed properly. My guess is that the background is
being lit by another light source. Typically, your camera uses a flash
for dark areas or what it gauges as a dark area. This doesn't adjust
the background for additional light sources. For example, if you're
standing outside and there's a tree covering someone that you're taking
a picture of your flash will adjust to "properly" light that
individual. However, because the flash was used for the main subject,
the background is actually now overexposed. The overexposed background
will show up as a brightly lit area because the camera had to adjust
for the foreground. This will actually reverse itself when it's dark
out - meaning if the background and foreground are dark, the flash will
expose the foreground, but the background will be black. Hopefully,
that helps you understand lighting and exposure. Now, to fix this
problem when shooting, you would need to consider several options - 1.
SLR camera with aperture and f-stop settings as well as compensation
controls. This will allow you to control every element of the exposure, but you still need to be aware of the lighting behind the "subject" to properly expose your shots. 2. backlighting compensation - common settings on both SLR and point and shoot cameras that makes auto lighting conversions for backlighting and other common lighting issues. Test whatever options are on your camera to see what works best for your specific problem. 3. Photoshop retouching - you may take one shot with your subject exposed properly and a second shot with the background then merge the images together. 4. using
a tripod to shoot without using the flash - this may give you the closest exposure to exactly what you see when looking at your subject.
All solid objects cast a shadow; it cannot be avoided. Certain techniques will help control or reduce the shadow by eliminating or reducing the harshness of the flash. Some of these techniques are:
Elevate, eliminate or soften the flash:
Make sure the flash is above the lens when you camera is turned to vertical (portrait) orientation. If the on-camera flash is higher than the subject, the lens should not "see" the shadow in most situations. Make sure the camera is higher than the subject, but not so high that you make a shadow in the other direction (under your subject's eyebrows, nose or chin, for example).
If there is enough natural light, you might be able to turn the flash off, or you can add "natural" light to the scene by opening curtains, turning on room lights, and so on. In low light you can still photograph without the flash by making sure the camera does not move during the exposure. Consider using a tripod or monopod.
The auto color balance feature should automatically adjust the color for the light source. Sometimes it is helpful (at least minimally) to include a white or near neutral grey item within the camera's field of view to assist the camera's color balance assessment. Mixed lighting gives mixed results.
Illuminate, eliminate, or move away from the object that has the shadow cast upon it (a wall, for example). Or, use it to your advantage by angling for a better position that may bounce and diffuse the light from the on-camera flash by reflecting light off the wall. Some photographers might lay a white sheet in front of the subject to soften the light by bouncing the light off the ceiling.