17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Improving Your Photo Skills: To Flash or Not to Flash?

Most cameras have them, they pretty much guarantee you will capture a decent image. But they don't always make flattering photos. Why is that?

Four reasons:

1. Direction of light.
In nature light normally comes from above (the sun/sky). A flash comes from eye level.

2.Red Eye.

3. Spread
If your background is too far away your flash may not be strong enough to light it as much as it will be lighting your subject. As a result you get a bit of a spotlight effect.

4.Intensity- Harshness
Most flash units have no diffusion, so the light they create is hard. Which may or may not be a problem.

What to do: Honestly there is no easy answer. You have to use your judgement. If flash is the only way to get that image then do it, and don't feel bad about it. If possible, take a few shoots with and without the flash. I am currently working on two posts that each talk about what to do without a flash (one for inside and one for outside).

Taking it up a notch: If you are an amateur photographer and want to improve your flash technique, it is all about getting an off camera flash. You will need to buy a flash that is not connected to your camera. When you have your flash unit, I suggest two options:>

1. When you are in a situation where you have a ceiling that is no greater then about 20 feet above you, point the flash to the ceiling. Sounds crazy, but really it is crazy brilliant. The light being emitted from your 1"x3" flash will bounce off the much larger ceiling -- which becomes the light source for your subject. The quality of the light will be beautifully soft and the angle is more natural.

2. Get an L flash bracket (cost between $15-$32). An L flash bracket connects to the bottom of your camera, and has a grip on once side (which helps you hold your camera more easily) and it is where you mount your flash unit. So your flash will be about 5 inches above the lens and to one side. No more red eye and a more natural angle. Also consider getting a diffuser of some kind to soften the light. Your local amateur/professional camera store will have suggestions.


  • wow, thanks for the info. so helpful. have been avoiding using my flash but haven't known what to do without it in low light situations. looking forward to the rest of the posts that you're working on!
    posted by Blogger lainakay at 7/05/2007 06:53:00 PM  

  • Wow--I can't believe the difference it made in your two photos. Thanks for the info! You look so good, by the way!!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 7/06/2007 12:21:00 PM  

  • I'd love more posts like this!
    posted by Blogger cchrissyy at 7/07/2007 02:13:00 PM  

  • love your tips! I never know when to use what feature when I take pictures.
    posted by Blogger Bubbles at 7/08/2007 06:53:00 PM  

  • Please say this is just the beginning to a several part series. I love photo tips.
    I used the flash tips at a shower I threw this weekend and my pictures came back so much better. I kept looking at the pics after I shot them and would think I needed the flash but held back. Thank heavens. I guess I was a flashy photog before, now I am breaking the habit!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 7/09/2007 06:53:00 AM  

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