A Simplified Guide to Flash Photography

digital auto flash isolated on white background

Many people have the notion that the simplest solution to taking clear shots in a dark lit environment is to use flash. However, the truth is that flash looks so simple to use, yet so confusing. It is very unpredictable.

You can take a beautiful shot with the flash on, and then the next one makes your subject overly illuminated. In addition, flash can increase the chances of encountering the red-eye problem.

So, does this mean you stop using flash when taking photographs in dim areas or indoors? The answer is No; it is included there for a reason. When used correctly, flash can improve your pictures, especially in low light conditions.

So, How Do Use Flash to Come Up With Stunning Photographs?

camera flash  speed

1. Know How to Use Shutter Speed and Aperture

Shutter speed refers to the length of time your camera’s shutter will be open to capture an image. You can use shutter speed to get better-looking photos. The general rule is to use slow shutter speed so that you can be able to balance the flashlight and the ambient light in your surroundings.

Aperture controls the amount of light reaching your camera sensor. Set a larger f-number to close the aperture so as to get less flash exposure and vice versa. In other words, aperture controls the effect flash has on your photos.

2. Use Fill Flash

This is where you use flash to light up darker areas in a photo. The feature is helpful when taking a shot of a subject in the sun. For instance, if the subject has some parts of his face having shadows, you can use fill flash to light up the darker areas.

To use fill flash the right way, use it at the right distance- between 2-12 feet away from the subject. Also, if you have DSLR, you can set it to Aperture priority (A) mode or Program (P) mode to get the right exposure.

3. Make Use of Flash Exposure Compensation If Available

This feature might not be available on all digital cameras, but if you have it, you should use it to correct your flash when it gives too much or too little light. You should increase flash exposure when you want to reduce the range of the flash and vice versa.

4. Soften Your Flash’s Harshness

At times, the light coming from your flash can be too harsh. If this happens, you can soften it by either tapping white cardboard below the flash unit or using a tissue over your flash. Either of these methods will soften the harshness.

5. Add More Ambient Light

If you are using flash light to take good photographs in total darkness, you are in for a rude shock. You need to allow more light in the scene instead of using flash as the only source of light.

If this is not possible, close your aperture to get more depth of field and increase the power of flash by increasing flash exposure compensation.

Other flash photography tips:

Use Colored Flash Gels

Flash gels can add color and interest to your picture. You can attach them to your flash so as to add a colored tint to the light emitted by the flash. In addition to adding creative effects in images, flash gels can also help you to match your flash color with the ambient light.

Room lights have different color temperatures to your flashes, which means that you have to match the light temperatures in your surroundings for your image to look natural. You can rectify this by adding an amber filter over your flash lens or setting your camera white balance to tungsten or auto.

Rethink About Adjusting Flash

It is easy to use flash light to make your subject more visible. However, you will not always get the best results, especially when you are taking an image against ambient light. When you use excessive flash light against ambient light, you will make the background disappear as you try to expose your subject, which is not what you want.

Therefore, sometime, you will need to allow the ambient light and your background to appear the way they are so as to add context and a sense of atmosphere to your photograph. To ensure that your subject is not underexposed, use appropriate flash power to compensate for the slight difference between the foreground and background. This ensures that your subject is properly exposed.

Final Thoughts

As with any other photography technique, using flash requires practice and patience. You will need to practice your shots severally to master flash photography. Follow the above tips, and don't get discouraged when you get overly exposed photos. Continue to adjust it until you learn how to use it right.

Posted in: Camera basics