Using Flash in Photography

Photography is an art form that requires not only a keen eye for composition but also an understanding of the myriad tools at one’s disposal. One such tool, often misunderstood or underutilized, is the camera flash. Contrary to popular belief, a flash isn’t just for illuminating dark scenes; it can be a powerful ally in broad daylight as well.

In the realm of event photography, mastering the use of an external flash can elevate your photos from amateur to professional quality. By angling an external flash towards the ceiling, you create a diffused light that softly envelops the subject, avoiding the harsh shadows and overexposed spots that direct flash can cause. This technique, combined with a lens of 50mm or longer, can produce stunning results that capture the essence of the event with clarity and depth.

However, the utility of flash extends beyond the confines of indoor spaces. Outdoors, even under the glaring midday sun, a flash can be your secret weapon. This is where the concept of ‘fill flash’ comes into play. By using a gentle burst of flash, you can eliminate the deep, unflattering shadows that natural light can cast on your subject’s face, particularly under their eyes and chin. The trick is to use the flash subtly enough that it goes unnoticed, seamlessly blending with the natural light to create a balanced exposure.

It may seem counterintuitive, but a built-in camera flash can indeed be more beneficial on a sunny day than in the dark. The key is to use it judiciously. On a bright day, setting the flash to a lower power can help fill in shadows without overpowering the ambient light. This technique ensures that the subject is evenly lit, providing a natural look to the photograph.

Understanding when and how to use a flash is crucial for any photographer looking to improve their craft. It’s not just about adding light; it’s about shaping and controlling light to enhance the subject and convey a mood or atmosphere. Whether you’re capturing the laughter at a birthday party or the serene beauty of a landscape, the flash can be an invaluable tool in your photography arsenal.

So, the next time you’re out with your camera, consider the lighting conditions and don’t hesitate to experiment with your flash. With practice, you’ll find that this often-overlooked feature can transform your photographs, adding depth, dimension, and a professional polish that sets your work apart. Remember, photography is about painting with light, and the flash is one of the brushes you have at your disposal. Use it wisely, and watch your photographs come to life.

A graduate of the University of Waterloo, I have been a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario since 1982 (Now designated Retired). A member of The Association of Ontario Locksmiths, I have been active in the Locksmith trade since 1985

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