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10 tips for better photographs

Film Vs Digital

Photoshop Quick Tips

 

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Flash Photography

Flash Photography can be a tricky thing to master. Generally, it should be avoided – unless it is to provide fill light for shadows.

Harsh light from an electronic flashElectronic flash units give out very harsh light, and as such, will give harsh shadows. But there are a few techniques that can be used to reduce this if you find it absolutely necessary to use it.

First if all, avoid any built in electronic flash on the camera as much as possible. It has a fixed location and power setting and therefore there is very little that can be done to control both direction and power.

Using a separate flash unit either mounted on top of the camera’s hotshoe or to one side of the camera and connected via a synch cord, will enable much more control over how and in what direction the flash fires.

I’m sure everyone has seen the dreaded “Red-eye” photographs. In fact, this is such a common problem, that Photo editing software manufacturers usually have an automatic one-button fix for red-eye!

The reason for “red-eye” is that the flash is too close to the film or image sensor plane – i.e. it is mounted directly above the film or image sensor.

Bounce FlashThere are two ways to solve this – either move the flash off the top of the camera by mounting it to the side, or bounce the flash.

Bouncing the flash is sometimes the only way to solve the harsh light from a hotshoe mounted device. It also will soften the light, reducing the shadows, provide more light to the background and generally give a more pleasing result. A note to remember is that when you bounce a flash, if the ceiling or wall is not white, the flash may bounce back the coloured light and add a colour cast to the photograph.

Of course, this method needs a flash with good power as it will obviously use more than firing directly at the subject.

Speaking of power, it’s important to understand the power output of your flash. This is called the Guide Number and is usually expressed using an ISO film speed of 100 and a foot or meter distance. The bigger the number, the more power it has.

If using a flash made to work with your make of SLR, it will very often control the exposure using TTL (through the lens) light metering. This will take some of the guess work out of the proceedings.

Using Flash to fill in shadows outdoorFlash can also be used to fill in shadows if you are forced to photograph in harsh sunlight. If using a hotshoe mounted flash, set the flash to underexpose by 1-2 stops and use normal settings on the camera to achieve a nice fill light.

Be sure to remember that the camera has a maximum shutter speed setting when using a flash (usually around 200th/s to 250th/s), and if you use faster than this you may only expose part of the image correctly.

 

 

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