And here is the last lesson...
Lesson Eight - Flash
Flash seems a pretty basic function of most cameras today. You have a low light situation, the camera fires the flash to brighten it, end of story - right? Could be. But perhaps you haven't considered all the lighting situations in which you could benefit from a bit of flash? Or that you can control if the flash fires or not? You may be surprised to know that the results you can get from flash in bright outdoor settings are often better than those you get when you use flash in a dark indoor setting.
Back and Side Light
We all know its best to photograph your subject with the light source behind the photographer. But what if you can not control the light source or the subject? Do you lose the photo? No. This is a perfect situation to use your flash. Even though the light coming from behind or beside your subject may be adequate enough for your camera not to automatically fire the flash, you should turn it on manually. Your result will be a more evenly lit photograph. Rather than having bright light behind your son with him appearing as a silhouette, his facial features will be in clear focus. Rather than having one side of your children's faces visible and the other side lost hi shadow, both sides will be evenly lit.
Having trouble forcing the flash to fire at your whim rather than the camera's? You may not have flash control in certain modes, such as fully automatic mode or the program modes (portrait, landscape, sports, macro, etc). Try changing the mode.
Even when light is coming from the front or above, it may be too harsh to give an even exposure. If you are photographing people, you may find harsh shadows below their noses and eyes. Unless you are a raccoon, this is not terribly flattering. You can fill these shadowed areas with light by forcing your flash to fire. This type of flash use is often called "fill-flash". Some cameras come equipped with a fill-flash setting, others you have to change the flash mode to "on". I use fill-flash often to fill unwanted shadows. It's especially useful to see the facial detail of people wearing hats with a brim.
You may have noticed the attractive bounce of light you see in the eyes of most professional portraits. These reflections are called "catch-lights" and what they add to a portrait are life and vitality. Without this sparkle, eyes look dull and "lifeless". This light effect happens naturally in brightly lit scenes, but you can also create it with your flash.
No Flash Situations
There are of course situations when it's best not to use flash. My biggest photography pet-peeve is watching stadium sport on television and seeing all the hundreds of flashes in the stands. None of those cameras has a flash strong enough to reach the subjects on the field. So rather than making a better photograph, the flash is lighting up the heads of the spectators in front of the photographer and decreasing the likelihood that the exposure for the athletes is correct. Shame.
Here are some situations in which to avoid using flash:
1) When your subject is beyond your flash range. (In stadiums - grin).
2) When you are photographing through glass. Your flash will bounce off the glass back at the camera and the glare will obscure your view.
3) When photographing near reflective surfaces, also because of glare.
4) During ceremonies or other events when flash would be disruptive.
5) Whenever natural light is bright enough to create catch-lights and soft enough not to create harsh shadows.
Example of where not to use flash:
Creative use of Flash
Flash can also be used creatively in many situations. For example during long exposures, the flash will freeze a moment in time and then the subject's movements will still be recorded during the remainder of the time the shutter is open. Some flashes allow the user to chose when during the exposure the flash is fired (beginning, middle or end), also allowing some creativity to the photographer.
No more from me for now. Hope some of you can use this to your advantage. If not maybe as a reminder of old teachings
Enjoy and let us see some of your work!