The lights are on in both pics, the room lighting is the same in both pics. In the first pic, the flash was on. In the second, the flash was off. Turning the room lights on while leaving the flash off results in a pic nearly identical to the first pic. There is simply no way to get a decent pic of the lights with this camera. Makes me wonder if it's a fundamental flaw in digital photography, or just this camera (an HP photosmart 318).