When on vacation try not to carry so much photography gear. A good point and shoot (Canon S90 or G11) would be more than enough. But, a big family reunion on vacation calls for the gear and then some.

After dinner cultural show where a dslr on ambient light just will not do. The Filipino dancers would just come out a big swirley blur.


Here an external flash comes in handy. Not the one built into the dslr body but those pricey ones that needs to be purchased separately.

These photographs were captured in an open space at around 8-9 pm with main light source being 2 sets of those four colorful direct lights on stands (second photo, right). Plus the other ambient lighting installed inside the tents and huts. The night sky was pitch black with stars all around and the moon half full not yet entirely visible. In come the handy flash-580EX II to be precise.


All that’s necessary is mount the external flash on the hot shoe and turn down the power level to -1. With lower power level you’ll be able to capture some motion to get a dynamic photo vs. the frozen shot with the flash on full auto. Almost all Canon dslrs released recently have flash control on the body as well. Just hit menu and look for it under external flash control.

If only a point and shoot is available then just turn on flash manually and turn down the power as well. Use your shutter priority mode for best results. Most importantly, don’t use p&s zoom. Walk up close to the subject and when you think you are close enough to get a good photo take 2 more steps for good measure. The photos below of the fire dancers were shot so close to the subject that heat could be felt and probably some arm hair was singed in the process.

If you have a Canon G series point and shoot then take advantage of the hot shoe. A Canon 270EX or 430EX II Speedlite on a G series would make quite a set up. My personal set up is on a point and shoot is a G7 (2007) with a 430EX II-more on this soon. Research on the web will show that many p&s’s now have a hot shoe for an external flash.

Just make the best of your photo gear. Learn it’s strength and weaknesses for proper experiments and have fun. It might be frustrating at first but don’t let this bog down those photo opportunities. Remember, shooting digital is way cheaper and more convenient than film. Not to mention the instant gratification of seeing the photo on the LCD.

Want to know more? Just email or stick it in the comment box. Thanks for reading.