Presentation on theme: "Castleford Camera Club Using Camera Flash. One of the biggest mistakes that photographers make is to not use their flash. In many cases this is because."— Presentation transcript:
One of the biggest mistakes that photographers make is to not use their flash. In many cases this is because they don’t understand how to use it or are unaware of the benefits that flash photography can bring. Flash is not something that should only be used when there’s not enough light to shoot without it, it’s also extremely useful in bright lighting conditions because it can fill-in deep shadows and help you balance the exposure of your subject with that of the background. Flash photography can really bring portrait images to life
Using flash with distant subjects At the other end of the scale from not using flash, this is a common problem for photographers who use their camera on the automatic settings or who wildly over estimate the power of the flash. You see it a lot a stadium events where the crowd seems to sparkle with all the flashes going off. Even the light from a powerful flashgun will not illuminate a subject at the centre of a stadium if you’re shooting from the crowd. Turn the flash off and push the sensitivity setting up instead. If it’s night-time and you want to leave the decisions to the camera, turn it to Night Scene mode or something similar – don’t use Night Portrait mode though, that will expect a subject within flash range and fire off a burst.
Red Eye Redeye in portraits is caused by light entering the subject’s eye and bouncing back from the retina into the lens. Most cameras offer a redeye reduction mode that works by firing a pre- flash that causes the pupil to close down before the main flash and the exposure. This can work well, but it doesn’t always cure the problem completely. Another solution is to position the flash further away from the lens so that the light doesn’t bounce straight back down the barrel. Naturally, this can’t be done with the on-camera flash and instead an external flashgun, which is connected to the camera either wirelessly or by a cord, is used. In some cases, simply using a hotshoe mounted flashgun rather than a camera’s pop-up flash can be enough because the light source is raised sufficiently above the lens.
You can get great lighting for your portraits with on-camera flash. And there’s no need to purchase expensive attachments to modify your light, because everything you need is already there. The thing to understand is that your flash unit is just another light source at your disposal. Fortunately, you can learn to control the light it produces and shape it to your needs. Plus, it has the added benefit of doing some of the thinking for you when you need it to.
Killing the Atmosphere While a burst of flash can illuminate dark shadows, it can also destroy the atmosphere of a low-light scene. In some cases it may be better to turn off the flash and extend the shutter speed and if necessary put the camera on a tripod, or push up the sensitivity setting to produce a more natural looking image. Alternatively, check your flashgun (or camera’s manual) and find out how to adjust the flash exposure compensation so that you can reduce the amount of light that it pushes out. You could also combine this with a longer exposure (using the slow sync flash mode) so that the background records a little while your nearby subject is illuminated by a small burst of flash.
Lens Hood Shadow As a rule it’s good to use a lens hood, but if it’s particularly large, the lens is long, or the flash is very low you may find that it casts a shadow that is visible in the image. The best solution to this problem is to move the flash so that the light isn’t cut-off by the lens or hood, but if this isn’t possible removing the hood maybe the only answer. If you can’t remove the flash from the camera and you’re using a long lens, try zooming in a little so that the shaded area isn’t in the frame.
Harsh Highlights Direct flash can produce very harsh highlights, which can mean shiny foreheads and noses in portraits. The solution is to diffuse the light from the flash and there are a number of ways to achieve this. One of the most common methods of diffusing the light from a flashgun is to fit a purpose made diffuser. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes (or you can make your own DIY diffuser) and they generally work pretty well. A diffuser will cut out a bit of light from your flash, but if you’re using TTL (through the lens metering) it should adjust to compensate. It’s also possible to diffuse the light from a pop-up flash simply by placing a piece of tissue paper, baking parchment or a rectangle of a translucent milk carton in front of it. Make sure you remove the diffuser from the flash before you push it back down though. Many flashguns have tilt and swivel heads and these allow you to bounce the light off a large surface such as a ceiling, wall or deflector to create softer, more even illumination. This is also a good way of avoiding redeye. Because the bounced light will have the same colour as the surface it’s bounced off, it’s essential that you use a white wall or ceiling.
Low Level Flash In most cases a flash is a stand-in for the sun so as a rule a flash should be fired from above the subject. This is instinctive when shooting with a camera in landscape format, but when shooting in portrait format with a compact camera it’s easy to wind up with the flash firing from lower down. And with a DSLR or CSC the pop-up flash or flashgun will usually be level with the lens. With a compact camera it’s just a case of checking where the flash is in relation to the lens and turning the camera so that the flash is above the lens rather than below. With a DSLR or CSC, however, the best solution is to use a flashgun off-camera, connecting it wirelessly or via a cord. There are brackets available that enable a flashgun to be held above a camera whatever orientation you are shooting in.
Movement blurred in front of the subject Compared with the average exposure the duration of a flash is very brief and it usually fires at the beginning of the exposure. If the subject is moving this can result in it being recorded clearly by the flash at the start of the exposure and then its movement registering as a blur afterwards.
This will produce a shot with a faint blurred image of the subject in front of a sharp version and it doesn’t really fit in with how we think about movement.
Switching the flash to second curtain flash resolves the problem by triggering the flash to fire at the end of the exposure.
Suddenly the trail of blurred movement is behind the subject, making for a more natural looking image that conveys a sense of speed.
Bounce It This is the number one secret weapon when it comes to on-camera flash techniques. Indoors, a typical room with light-colored walls and ceilings will provide you with all the bounce surfaces you need to make beautiful pictures. Using this technique, you can achieve softbox-style lighting, or even very broad lighting, with your flash unit alone.
To create a portrait with the bounce technique tilt the flash unit to hit the ceiling and/or wall as you visualise a large softbox there, at the traditional portrait lighting angle to a subject. This technique is very versatile as it can give you everything from very dramatic split-lighting to soft, even illumination. The subject’s orientation, and the resultant secondary bounce around the room (providing fill light) are the keys to creating the effect you want.
You can even angle your flash up and behind you to fill a small to normal-size room up with beautiful light. Spin it around and up at about 45 degrees to hit the wall and ceiling behind you.
Flags Something most people don’t realize is that light comes out of your flash unit in a wide pattern, not in a straight beam. While most of the light is focused forward, there is a good amount actually spilling out perpendicular to the flash head lens. We can use a ‘Flag’ to resolve issues.
When bouncing your flash, at certain angles close to that perpendicular plane, direct light will hit your subject. This isn’t necessarily something you have to avoid, but it can result in “point-and- shoot” type shadows, especially if there is a wall or other flat surface just behind your subject. To eliminate this effect, you can place a small piece of opaque material or black foam just long enough to block the direct part of the light from hitting your subject. That one little change can make a big difference in the overall look of your shot.
Increase the Size of the Flashgun The size of your light source, relative to your subject, affects the overall look of the picture. This is generally because a larger light source will create a smoother transition between light and shadow, or what you might call softer light.