Most of the common problems associated with poor results in digital photography relate to light and different lighting situations.
The idea that a simple point-and-shoot camera will take care of the lighting situation perfectly for you is a myth. Here are some simple lighting tips that can help to improve your photos in different lighting situations.
Natural light provides some of the best light to shoot photos in, producing beautiful colors and results, though it can also be problematic due to its variety and inconsistency.
can provide an excellent environment to shoot in. The clouds soften the harsh sunlight, reduce dramatic shadows and create a more even lighting situation.
Try to avoid shooting photos in the middle of the day.
The light is very intense in the middle of the day and can cause dramatic shadows over the face, glare and squinting with the subject. If you must shoot during the middle of the day, try to use natural open shade or a cloudy moment.
Position the subject/s relative to the sun.
Ideally put the sun to the side of your subject/s. The sun directly behind the subject will cause the subject to be silhouetted on a light background (in this situation you can use "flash fill" as explained next). The sun directly behind you will make your subjects squint.
Use "Flash Fill" to fill in the dark areas of your photo.
When your subject or areas close to you are darkened or silhouetted (typically by a very light background, window, etc...) you can use your flash in conjunction with the natural light to evenly light your shot. This 'fills in' the dark areas with the light from the flash and is known as "flash fill."
Inside lighting can vary greatly so use your white balance or indoor lighting settings to adjust for different hues.
Different kinds of lights produce different colors (sometimes your photos will look yellow or blue). Your white balance setting on your camera will compensate for this producing a more natural, 'balanced' result.
Move your subject away from any walls.
This will avoid a "halo" shadow that blends with your subject and makes them look bigger. This is particularly important when you are using your flash. The shadow will not be evident until you take the photo and the flash goes off.
Try to diffuse or reflect your light source.
When taking photos with artificial light, unless you are a professional photographer, your light may cause dramatic shadows. One way to avoid this is to use some sort of 'diffuser.' White paper in front of your light source works well in softening the light. You can also use a reflector - a cooler lid or foil wrapped around some cardboard often works well. Set up your light source on one side of the subject and the reflector on the other side. This will lessen and soften any shadows caused by your light source.
These are a few ideas you can play with to improve the quality of your photo results. The beauty of digital photography is that you can experiment as you shoot and get the results instantly without waiting and without wasting film. So give some of these tips a shot. Play around with different lighting solutions and have fun!