How to use Flash

External flash is normally used in order to compensate on low light environment. For a good flash photography, we try to make the flash light appear as close to natural light as possible in the photo.

However flash light travels directly and the subject to be photographed is usually not too far away. This resulted the flash light appeared to be sharp and hard and not as soft as natural lights. The outcome of the photo will usually be stiffer as most of the flash light will falls on the surface of the subject (human face if it is portrait photography). In such situation, there will be a need of attaching a diffuser to the external flash. Diffuser diffuse the light or redirect the scatter of light to different direction and this makes the light appear in the photo to be softer.

As mentioned previously, the flash light travel directly from the external flash to the surface of the subject in photo. With addition of diffuser, the light will be scatter a bit and the photo will look softer. However, it still looks very different than natural lights. Nature light usually comes from top (sky), instead of horizontal direction. In order to make the light looks like coming from the top, we need to use “bounce lighting”

This is only applicable for indoor photography as we need to use the ceiling to bounce back the light from the external flash. In other words, we change the angle of the external flash, aiming it with certain angles to the ceiling instead of the object to be photographed. The flash light will hit on the surface of the ceiling and bounce back to the subject to be photographed. This way, the photo will look soft and also natural as the light appear to be come from top.

With the understanding of how light “bounces”, we can play around with different techniques of photography. We can adjust the angle of the external flash accordingly and have the light bounce from different angles to achieve different types of creative photos. Of course, the criteria is we need something to reflect the light back and that have to be something that is light in color in order to reflect the light nicely and the distance between the “ceiling” and the subject cannot be too far.

Other than bouncing the light, we can also try flash photography by moving the flash away from the camera. Some camera and external flash can function without attached together. It is either wired or wireless, we can remove the external flash from the camera system and placed it at any other location or angle that we want the light source to be. The flexibility and creativity of flash photography will be in another level as we can control the source of the light at different direction and angle. Although, the disadvantages are more setting is needed. We will need someone to help holding the flash at different angle or something such as tripod to hold the flash.

More about Camera Setting


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