Random thoughts on photography

Flash Photography

These days almost everyone has a camera, whether it’s on your cell phone or a dedicated digital camera.  And everyone loves to take photos to remember those special occasions.  Quite often, those occasions are happening indoors, and in order to get a nicely exposed image you have to use a flash.

If you notice, the professional photographers rarely use the flash that is built into their camera.  They will use a unit often described as a “strobe” that is either attached to the camera on top of the built-in flash, or a unit that is separate from the camera.  The reason they are using the strobe is so they can get a direction to the flash which is not directly in line with the camera lens, in order to eliminate the dreaded “red-eye” effect and also to give some definition to the subjects in the picture.

The flash on the camera “flattens” the image and often gives a very stark effect to the resulting image because the light source is so close to the subject and directly in line with the lens.  Using a strobe allows a photographer to angle the light source away from the subject and bounce the light back onto the scene they are photographing.

The image that I have included here shows how, with the light off to one side, the face has much more definition.  The shadows and contrast also make the photo more interesting and natural looking.

One rule of lighting in photography is “the larger the light source, the softer the image”.  This is an important technique to remember.

Ok, so you don’t have a strobe.  You only have the flash that is built in to the camera.   You too, can diffuse the light from your flash, and get results similar to those achieved by the pros, by putting a small piece of translucent material over the flash that will make the light source less harsh and also make it into a “larger” light source this making your image much softer and more appealing to the eye.  Just a small piece of tissue paper will  do the trick, and make your flash images look even better than before.

Try it and see if it makes a difference with your flash photography!



Comments on: "Flash Photography" (1)

  1. Martha G. said:

    Just read your piece on flash photography. Thanks John! Very informative and quite an enjoyable read.

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