Have you ever had a great opportunity for a picture show up, only to find out later that the pictures you took were too dark or too light? The photography lighting tips below will help you improve the quality of your photos.

Use your LCD monitor. The LCD monitor on your digital camera isn’t only great for helping you frame your shots. Think of it also as an on-the-spot editor. When you’ve just shot an image, check it out on the monitor. You’ll be able to see right away whether your lighting was too bright or too dark, and make the proper adjustments to get a better picture with your next shot.

Know your flash’s range. The built-in flash on your digital camera has a set range; you’ll be able to find this information in your user’s manual. When taking indoor shots in a darker setting, make sure your subject is within the range of your camera’s flash. Also be aware that if you are zooming in, less light gets through your lens. This means that if you are zooming in on your subject, your flash will be less effective unless you’re well within its range.

Use an external flash unit. If you take a lot of indoor shots, and your camera allows you to use an add-on flash unit (there will be a hotshoe or slot on the top for connecting an add-on unit), consider investing in an external flash, as this will give you a farther range. If you purchase one that has a tilting feature, you can also angle it up towards the ceiling or out towards a wall, causing the light to bounce back onto your subject. This will give you a softer light that will improve the look of your photos.

Use your flash for outdoor photos. Most people will use their flash when taking indoor photos, but many don’t realize that a perfect use for the built-in flash on their digitial cameras are perfect when taking outdoor shots on a bright, sunny day. When used in this manner, the flash works as a “fill-in” flash; it will lighten up the dark shadows in your picture, creating less contrast and a better looking shot.

Photo reflectors. Another handy item to have for outdoor photos is a photo reflector. Use reflectors to reflect light into your subjects’ faces. The reflected light is soft and will brighten up the too-dark shadows that will otherwise show up.

Natural light is always best. Remember that natural light is always much better than artificial light. Whenever possible when taking photos indoors, position your subject near a window. The more natural light, the better your photo will look.