Dark arch on the bottom of photo

What’s wrong

You have some guests over and want to take some snap shots. You see a friend sitting in a chair and quickly take a shot. Wait! Why is there this dark arch at the bottom of my photo? Is my camera going bad?

Dark arc at bottom

Image 1 - Dark arc at bottom

The Problem

The dark area at the bottom of the photo is a shadow of the lens (or lens hood) from the on-board flash.

Image 2 - D80 with wide angle lens and hood

Image 2 is the actual set up that took Image 1 second before.

Solution

There are a few solutions to fix the shadows left by lenses.

  • Don’t shoot so wide – Zoom in a little. Maybe you need to shoot so wide, but maybe you don’t.
  • Remove lens hood – Since you are probably indoors, a lens hood might be needed. I always use a lens hood, even indoors, as additional level of protection of the front glass.
  • Use a hot shoe flash – an inexpensive flash like the Nikon SB-600 is a great addition to any kit. This would not only lift the flash bulb to be higher (great for reducing red-eye), but allows you to bounce the flash off ceiling and walls.
  • Don’t use the on-board flash – Maybe you don’t need it. If you’re camera is producing good high ISO images, try that if the shadows bother you.

Anecdote : I used the Nikon 50mm 1.8D lens for Image 2. EXIF data below:

Device:    Nikon D700
Lens:    50mm F/1.8D
Focal Length:    50mm
Focus Mode:    AF-S
AF-Area Mode:    Single
Aperture:    F/8
Shutter Speed:    1/60s
Exposure Mode:    Aperture Priority
Exposure Comp.:    0EV
Metering:    Matrix
ISO Sensitivity:    Auto (ISO 2200)
Flash
Flash Sync Mode:    Front Curtain
Flash Mode:    Optional, TTL
Flash Exposure Comp.:    0EV
Advanced Operations:    Bounce Flash
White Balance:    Auto, 0, 0
High ISO NR:    ON (Normal)

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