Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to avoid making the flash your enemy

Taking the perfect photograph isn’t always as easy as we think. More often than not, we press click, wait for the flash then look back to see a flat, blown-out image. Suddenly, the flash has become our enemy. However, there is a way to master the flash on our cameras. A way for us to utilise the flash as our friend.

Once you understand the art of the flash, you can manipulate it to create a huge range of different outcomes. That being said, there are more than one kind of flash to consider here. Clifton Cameras has looked at a handful of those to help you become a better photographer.

To begin to understand the flash, it is important to have some knowledge regarding the exposure triangle, as you’ll need to understand how light affects your photographs, since flash photography means there are two light sources to consider. It is all about experimenting to get the correct balance between the natural light in the scene you are shooting and the light given off from the flash itself.

The Pop-up Flash

The ‘pop-up’ flash is available on a variety of cameras including the Canon EOS. It is useful for creating dramatic lighting on a fixed subject in your shot. However, this is not always the most useful of flashes. Its fixed position means you are limited to where you can point the camera. Pointing the flash away from your subject leads to a risk of everything looking like part of the background. There means you risk of losing the subject. There are a few things you can do to save internal flash imagery.

Do not use pop-up flash for the following:

  • Shooting large scenes outdoors: The flash won’t be powerful enough and you’ll end up getting bright foregrounds and completely miss whatever it is you’re trying to shoot.
  • Gigs: Flash will not only distract the performer, but you’ll also end up with awkward, flat photos.
  • Street photography: The bright, startling flash of a camera is a great way to announce your activity to the world. If you’re trying to get candid shots, turn your flash off.

A Flash Diffuser

One way to prevent these kinds of image problems is to use a flash diffuser which will essentially ‘soften’ the light from the flash. You could even make your own by using a light, thin translucent material over the flash. This helps to prevent deep shadows or bright, unwanted highlights.

External Flash Guns

You can buy an external flash gun to really get the most out of your flash photography. It can be fitted to the hot shoe of your camera to give you a great deal of control over your flash. They can be quite difficult to learn how to use but the features can be most beneficial to achieving your perfect photograph.

There are five main features to the flash gun:

  1. A mode selection button that allows it to switch between manual, full auto and more
  2. A rotating head that allows you to point the flash where you like
  3. A zoom function which is often calibrated to your lens, but can be adjusted to change the spread of light
  4. A rotating head that allows you to point the flash where you like
  5. A charge light which will refill after each shot. If you need full power flash, wait til it is fully charged

Off-centre Flash

The external flash gun means you can start to experiment with the flash and position to flatter your shot with softer lighting. For example, you can hold the flash gun to the right of the camera to create a soft lighting on the right side of the subject, which balances out the light that is coming from the left side of the subject. Alternatively, when there is no bright light in the shot, the flash gun can create a dramatically lit image.

You can use more than one flash gun at a time to create a huge variety of exposure settings. You can manipulate the flash to create the perfectly lit shot so when you press click, wait for the flash and look back to see your photograph, it is exactly what you wanted.

For more articles like this, take a look at Clifton Cameras’ onsite blog.