Using Night Scene Mode
Your digital camera’s optional Scene modes, includes lots of different options, including Night Scene Mode that’s been designed for taking photos of people using the camera’s built-in flash to illuminate them while a slow shutter speed opens up detail and color in the background.
When making a portrait in front of a cityscape or sunset using any one of the other camera exposure modes that are available, the foreground or the background may be exposed correctly but it’s unlikely you will achieve a balanced exposure between foreground and background. Night Scene mode automatically selects a longer (than normal) exposure time so the background will have sufficient exposure. The flash will then accurately illuminate the main subject in the foreground, with the final result being that the background will be properly exposed by the exposure time.
Tip: Since you may end up with a slow shutter speed and fairly wide aperture and the flash turned on—that’s the whole point of trying to balance flash and background—be careful where you focus and be sure to carefully focus on your subject using the camera’s focus lock feature. Be sure to hold the camera steady too, to minimize blurring the background.
Caption: My fiend Tony photographed a slightly heavier me after we went shopping in Tokyo’s akihabara district using an EOS Digital Rebel in Night Scene mode. The camera determined an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/3/5 with an ISO setting of 400. ©2010 Tony Gomez