Taking pictures using flash is something that a lot of us consider forbidden for one reason or another. Simply put, when it comes to using flash, a lot of photographers will tend to ask you to stay away from it because you might not be able to get the type of picture you are looking for and honestly, flash often ends up ruining the picture, as well.
However, photography is something where there are a lot of exceptions, and almost everyone finds themselves in a situation where they have to use flash for one reason or another. Keeping this in mind, we are going to discuss some flash photography basics, so you can have a better understanding of what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided. So, let’s not waste time and have a look, shall we?
Flash Photography Basics – How to Use Flash the Right Way
Now, looking at photography, you will realise that there are multiple types of flashes that are available. Some entry-level cameras have built-in flash offerings, while higher-end cameras require external flashes that you mount on the camera. Then you have off-camera flashes as well. However, people often end up confusing flash with continuous lighting, which is a very different concept with a slightly similar purpose.
You see, a flash on a camera works more like a strobe, it goes off for a brief second, illuminates the subject, and that is it. However, continuous lighting is different because as the name suggests, the light remains on at all times.
We are going to look at some basics, so you can have a better understanding.
1- Pop-Up Flash vs. Off-Camera Flash
So, pop-up flash, as the name suggests is the type of flash that is already built-in on camera. Now, this is something that a lot of affordable and mid-range cameras has to offer but not every single one of them comes with this feature. Now, the built-in flash does not offer the same level of control as an off-camera flash or an external flash, but it is still good to give you a basic understanding of how it works.
Off-camera flash or external flash is the type of flash that you install either on the camera through the hot shoe mount or just use it while the flash is completely detached from the camera, allowing you to move it freely. With off-camera flashes, you have a lot of control over how you want to illuminate the scene.
2- Continuous vs. Strobe Flash
Moving on, another thing to note here is that it is important to understand the difference between continuous vs strobe lighting, a common thing that a lot of people overlook. Continuous lighting, as I have said before, lights the subject provides illumination for as long as it is turned on. A strobe flash, on the other hand, strobes for a specific duration, illuminating the subject in that period and turns itself off.
While this might make one believe that one lighting type is better than the other, both strobe and continuous lighting have their specific usage, and cannot be compared that way with each other. So, it is important that one must keep that in mind.
Some Important Tips for Flash Photography That You Need to Know
Now, flash photography is not for everyone, and this is evident from the fact that you often don’t see people talking about it a lot. However, it is still there and it is still prevalent so we are going to take a look into what you need to do to successfully create the best experience of this photography type. I do understand that it might be confusing for some but we want to make your experience better, so let’s not waste time and have a look at some tips that we believe can be very helpful to anyone who is looking to get into flash photography.
1- Always Bounce the Light
If you are going to use the flash, external or internal, the one tip that I will always give oyu the best results is that you should always bounce the light. I do understand that this might be confusing for some but bouncing the light will actually help you a lot in getting the right picture. When you bounce the light from another object onto the subject, the light looks a lot more natural, and fills the subject the right way, without making it look harsh on it. It helps a lot, and the best thing is that you can just go ahead use whatever is at your disposal.
2- Try and Diffuse the Flash
Any light, natural or artificial, can end up being harsh. That is why photographers use different ways to diffuse the light and make it a bit softer. This can infinitely help in making sure that you get the right picture every single time and you don’t have any issues in the process either. You can use light diffusers of all sorts, so that is not really going to be an issue.
3- Using Ambient Light
A common misconception that I have seen most people go through is that when they are using flash or any other form of external light, they have no use for ambient light but that is not the case. You can combine ambient light with external light and it will work remarkably well and without any issues. Just be sure to play with it for a while before you actually get the results you are looking for.
4- Experimenting with Colored Flash Gels
As a photographer, you will have a lot of tools at your disposal that you can use to take your photography to the next level. One such offering comes in the form of flash gels that you can buy in the market. Colored flash gels can add an additional color to your picture and honestly, this might not look like something that is your style but if you are looking to add a different look to your photos, it is an excellent way to go.
5- Try Using Multiple Light Sources
I know this is going to sound odd to a lot of people, but when you are looking at photography, you can actually go ahead and use multiple light sources. What does this is gives you the freedom of actually going ahead and taking pictures the way you want to, and not having to worry about how to use the light and whether or not you access to enough of it. I do understand if this doesn’t make sense to a lot of people but the more you look into it, the better results you will get, this I can guarantee.
If you are trying to get into flash photography, I can tell you that it is not as complicated as it might sound, but you will need to have some time to get used to it. It can be complicated at first but after a while, you will be able to master it with ease.
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Hi! I’m Furqan Shahid, founder of SnapDirector. With a decade of experience capturing countless moments, I’m here to guide you on your photography journey and save you from gear pitfalls!