On auto mode, your camera is likely to recognise the excessive light coming into the camera and think that it doesn’t need a flash when, in reality, it does. Before you get out your flash, think about what you’re trying to capture and whether a flash is necessary.
This can be done easily with a transmitter (bought separately but sometimes built in to a camera) or a sync lead (the cheap option). In a well lit sunny situation where you’re just using it as fill flash to remove shadows, the ISO need not be any higher than 100. Consider how you want your subject to look in the photo: are you using the flash to fill in the shadows or to cast interesting shadows onto the subjects face?
A little bit of extra light can go a long way so think about the amount of power you want to put into the flash and where you want to put it. Have a look at the photos below, I moved the flash further away on the second photo as it was far too strong to begin with.
5:1 This means that there is 4 times as much ambient light as flash so would require -2 flash power.
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Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photography in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that you read the best photography content on the internet! Flash photography is the use of a camera flash bulb in a variety of possible situations where there doesn’t seem to be enough light.
But there are many other situations where the flash could be used, such as using fill-flash when the background is brighter than the subject, using the flash to light up a room and creating better coloring, or using the flash to freeze a moving object in a dark situation.
In typical indoor situations there will probably not be enough light to take a normal hand-held well-exposed photo. In order to take effective indoor flash photos there are some techniques you should keep in mind. This would normally create somewhat of a silhouette effect, but a fill flash would balance the photo nicely. Many cameras have a red-eye reduction mode where the flash may fire before the picture is taken in order to cause the subjects’ pupils to contract. A slow sync flash is for more complicated exposures and is used commonly to create blurry long exposures.
Many photographers also choose to bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling to get a softer, diffused kind of light commonly sought after for portraits. Practice using flash in your photos even when it is not necessarily needed and pay attention to your results.
We are always looking for more interesting and insightful photography tips and techniques to share with our readers. Using Fill Flash For Outdoor Portraits I use the sun as a backlight quite a bit.
If you’re just getting started with outdoor flash photography, shooting on-location might pose a few new challenges for you. The trick in outdoor flash photography is that you need to balance your strobe light with the available light. Now, since we cannot control the light coming from the sun, we need to adjust our camera exposure to it, for correct background illumination. It’s important to keep in mind that since you cannot control the available light on-location, make it a habit to shoot at times when the sunlight is at its best. Most professional photographers prefer to shoot during the golden hour because, if you choose to shoot during the day when the sun is high in the sky, you will get harsh shadows and high contrast scenes which would make it difficult for you and your camera to capture soft, even exposures. If you’re bound by a certain time and the sunlight is not working in your favor, you can always shoot in the shade. Since you are shooting with your studio strobe, you will have to pay close attention to your shutter speed. Now that you know your camera’s shutter and aperture settings, all you have left to do is to meter your flash.
We’ve learnt how we can make use of ambient light to correctly expose the background, while maintaining subject exposure using our fill flash. Keep in mind that, now that you’ve accomplished the right camera and flash settings, everything is correctly exposed.
To over-expose the background, you’ll need to set your camera’s shutter speed to a lower setting. Using the same logic, to under-expose the background you would ride up your camera’s shutter speed.
Now, set your camera to manual mode with your shutter speed set to your camera’s sync speed for the largest opening possible, and adjust your aperture settings accordingly exposing for the background. If you find yourself outdoors with no strobe light on hand, you can use a reflector instead to bounce sunlight back onto your subject's face.
Experiment with reflector placement till you get a pleasant fill light that gives you the result you're after. Outdoor flash photography is a very interesting area to explore and once you get the hang of it, it can yield amazing professional results that you wouldn't be able to achieve otherwise. At this distance, the combination of flash and natural light would produce a considerable degree of overexposure, so the actual distance at which the flash is positioned needs to be doubled.


Since the directional qualities of the flash light are required for this application of boosting natural light, it’s far better to move the flash-gun rather than try to reduce its output by using a diffuser. The second (and far handier) use of outdoor flash (or natural daylight) is as a fill-in light.
The secret to success lies in ensuring that the fill-in light’s strength is less than that of the main light source (otherwise it becomes the main light source).
The simplest way of calculating the correct exposure should start with a light meter reading of the highlights. Painting with flash is a technique of using multiple flash-gun fires with a long single exposure. It’s a super hit-and-miss performance, but with a little luck on your side, it can produce stunning results and allow flash photography where a single flash would provide inadequate illumination. The aim of using a multiple flash unit setup is usually to provide a main light, fill-in, and possibly a backlight.
This is a fairly common occurrence and you may think it a shame to use a nasty pop up flash to fix it but the results often come out a lot better than expected.
That said, if you’re looking for a certain type of shot without the use of lens flare, this is a great technique to use. This allowed emphasis to be put on the berries rather than the surrounding leaves by lighting them up the most. In the soft evening sun it allowed me to light up my subject without having to flatten her features with direct flash. If you’re shooting in the evening and would like more background detail, consider raising it to 400. This also works the other way around where you would have to turn up the flash power to +1 if there was twice as much flash power to ambient light. The most common use of flash photography is group portraits at gatherings where there is not enough light to take a satisfactory exposure.
The reason it would come out blurry is because the shutter would be open long enough for any minor hand shake to distort the composition.
When using the flash do not point it directly at a mirror or glass that will create a lens flare or just ruin the photo. Fill flash can be used for sunny day portraits for shadows on a subject’s face or to fill any shaded area that is out of the sunlight. In order for this technique to work, you must be careful to stay in flash range, which is usually around four to ten feet.
The red-eye reduction modes in newer cameras are surprisingly effective and many work in different ways to contract pupils. The flash fires at the beginning of the exposure, but the shutter still stays open for a moment after the flash has fired.
This kind of flash technique requires a flash that can be aimed in a direction that the camera is not pointed. The best way to become better at flash photography is to analyze your photos and try to figure out what you could have done differently in order to create a better flash-filled exposure. Using only the pop up flash from the Canon 7D as a master, I held a Canon 580EX II flash in the softbox and took some portraits. Mainly because the available (or ambient) light source, which is the sun, is one you cannot directly control. So basically you will be working with (at least) 2 exposures: your flash exposure, and the camera’s exposure.
Once we’ve set our camera to match the available light, all we have to do is adjust our strobe light to match our camera settings to get a correct fill light. This is when the sun is low in the sky, which would be about 15 minutes before till after sunrise, and 15 minutes before till after sunset (otherwise known as the golden hour).
Try underneath some trees, next to a building, or any other location with soft diffused light. You won’t be able to set your camera’s shutter speed to one that is higher than your flash sync speed. Now point your camera just behind your subject (without having them within the frame), and with your camera’s shutter speed set to match the flash sync speed (or slower), adjust your aperture until you get a correct meter reading. With a light meter, adjust your flash power till you get an aperture setting identical to that of your camera’s.
So what happens if we want to under expose or over expose the background for dramatic creative effects?
Cross lighting is achieved by having 2 strong directional light beams coming from opposite directions, with your subject in between. Your best bet would be having the sun to their back to the left or to the right, depending on the available background, unless you want them facing the sun and squinting throughout the photo shoot! You’ll probably want to use a bare flash with no diffuser, so that your light can match up the light coming in from the sun.
Once you’re done with the camera settings, turn your strobe light on, say, half power and take a shot. You would go about this by placing your subject with their back to the sun to create a nice rim light effect, highlighting their hair from the back. The reflected light hitting your model's face from the front would be softer than the background light, and this would create a nice dramatic effect. Those are usually cheap, and they can be folded to fit right into your camera and gear bag. You need to experiment with lighting and subject positioning to learn what works for you and what doesn't.


In this situation, the flash is the main light source, and its direction should be above and perhaps to one side of the subject, just like sunlight.
The aperture is then divided into the flash gun’s Guide Number to derive a shooting distance, and one f-stop added to prevent overexposure being caused by the combination of natural and flashlight.
If you need to be closer, then the output of the flash should be reduced using a diffuser, and in this instance, a diffuser is a really good thing because we really don’t want the fill-in light to be highly directional (creating its own set of shadows).
The camera is secured in a fixed position (usually a tripod), and the flash is fired off-camera, and moved from place to place during the exposure (it doesn’t need to be connected to the camera). If you thought there was a bit of guesswork required in using one flash correctly, then the use of multiple flashes starts to get rather tricky. It can be done, but the downside to multiple flash lighting is that it’s easy to get wrong and something best left to the diehard flash enthusiast. The simple rules explained here will take away some of the guesswork and get you into the ballpark of accurately exposed and sympathetically lit shots. Please remember that there are no rules in photography, only guides, so play around with it as much as you like. The use of a tripod or higher ISO (or faster film) will probably be needed but many of us do not regularly carry a tripod. With common cameras, in order to add fill flash to a photo, just toggle the flash to go off when it normally would not be needed. It takes practice to refine this technique but many professionals come to use this method almost exclusively. For 35 years of my photographic life I have been told to take photos with the sun to my back.
The flash head on the 580EX II can be turned completely around so the IR sensor is pointing toward the photographer.
However, when you get the hang of outdoor flash photography, you will be stunned by the quality of photos you’ll be able to create.
I’ll say it again: your camera controls the background, and your flash controls your model.
This light would also act as a separation light (otherwise known as rim light or hair light), so you want to pay attention to how it falls on your model. If it’s too bright, either move a little further from your subject or even better lower its power for faster recycle time. Have someone help you hold a bounce card against the direction of the sunlight, in front of your subject's face to illuminate them from the front. Use the golden side for a warm light effect, or the silver side for a more natural bounced light. The Guide Number of the flash should then be divided by the aperture suggested by the light reading, which will derive the distance at which the flash-gun would be positioned for lighting by flash alone.
This setup should more or less produce the correct exposure, but when using simple flash units, a degree of experience building and experimentation is always required. Fill-in flash can illuminate these shadows and reduce contrast, especially where shadows would otherwise render as totally black. If you need to be further away, then the illumination from the flash will naturally reduce, so the exposure adjustment (of one f-stop) can be revised according to judgement.
For example, this could be used to photograph a large, dimly lit (or even totally dark) space, with the flash being pointed at different areas and fired as many times as possible within the exposure time. Try to make sure your main subjects are about the same distance away from the flash as each other or some that are closer to the flash will appear brighter than ones that are farther away.
Or the slow sync flash could capture a sunset and freeze a closer subject that is moving through the frame.
If the available light qualities change, adjust your camera and flash settings to match the new light. So if you want to alter background exposure, all you need to do is change your camera’s shutter speed. Check out Envato Studio's servicesChoose from over 5 million royalty-free photos and images priced from $1.
It’s important to remember that even on a dull day, the natural light is directional, and when used correctly, the flash should augment that natural light. Remember, for every doubling of the distance, the light intensity reduces by one quarter (known as the Inverse Square Law). Or you may just want to cast light on certain objects in a lighted room that appears too dark for an exposure.
In a backlit situation there will be a lot of light in the background but no or little light cast on the front of the subject. There are countless situations where a slow sync flash could possibly be used to enhance an exposure. The fill flash doesn’t need any adjustment since it’s already set to correctly illuminate your subject.
You will also need tripods or light stands to hold, position, and direct some of the extra flashes.
There are also other versions of the sync flash such as the rear sync flash (where the flash fires at the end of an exposure) or the stroboscopic flash (where the flash fires multiple times throughout an exposure).



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