DSLR Photography 101. Friend or Foe: Know Your Flash and How to Use It

DSLR Photography 101. Friend or Foe: Know Your Flash and How to Use It

Know Your Flash and How to Use It

Most cameras come equipped with a pop-up flash. 

It will generally do an acceptable job in close proximity to your subjects.

But there are tricks to get the most out of your flash and get better photos. 

Know Your Flash and How to Use It.

The flash is generally elevated over the centre of your lens.

This means if you take a horizontal photo, the light will be balanced over the subject.

If you turn to take a vertical photo, all the extra light from the flash is coming from one side to the other and can cause bad shadowing.

If you are planning to take headshots, perhaps for a business card or even just a profile pic with your blog, I suggest taking it outside, with a plain background in a shaded area, and use the flash to fill in any shadows caused by the natural light.

This is called a fill-flash. An added suggestion, stand five or 10 feet away from a wall to avoid harsh shadows.


Fool-Proof Settings

A photographer I knew in my early reporter days, this was before the days of digital pics, gave me some advice on basic almost fool-proof settings to use indoors with a pop-up flash to minimize its impact but still get well-lit photos.

They work just as well in the digital world now. If you set your ISO to 400, use F5.6 and shoot at 1/60 of a second, you are almost guaranteed to photos which are good enough to print.

Using the 5.6 will give you a bit more depth to the photo in case there are slightly different levels to the subject.

Some photographers hate the flash.

I am the opposite. In fact I have a secondary flash which sits on top of the camera and runs off its own battery system.

This flash, a middle of the line Nikon model, allows more fancy shooting.


Burst Feature

I’ve written before about the burst feature in cameras.

This flash allows you to use the flash in burst mode to provide more light and make colours pop.

It also swivels 180 degrees side to side and 90 degrees from vertical to horizontal, bringing the bounce flash into play.

When you bounce your flash, the light bounces off the ceiling and is diffused giving you natural looking artificial light.

95 per cent of all the photos I take with a flash are shot with a bounce flash.

But be warned, if you bounce off a coloured wall or ceiling, that colour will be noticeable in the image.

Having a larger exterior flash is also beneficial in low light situations.

Simply put, a larger flash gives you a larger amount of light to work with.

It is a lot easier to work with too much light than not enough.


Snap Shots: Tips from a (former) pro

A pop-up flash is good enough for most situations and it will always have power if your camera does too.

I have certainly lost out on good shots because by the time I got the camera out, put the flash on and tested it only to realize my batteries are dead, the moment was gone.

And I have a bad habit of killing batteries in my flash.

That’s what happens when you accidentally leave it on.

Lesson learned – know your flash and how to use it.

Our readers also enjoyed Essential Photography Equipment for Family TripsTripods: Your Three Legged FriendTripods: Your Three Legged Friend and DSLR Photography 101 – Part 1 – It’s Not the Camera It’s You.

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  1. Tiffany

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