How To Use Flash Photography

Flash photography is not difficult to understand when you know how. Simply put, flash photography is the art of getting the exposure and composition just right, without the use of natural or adequate lighting.

Many times, flash photography is used for portraits and group photos, especially in a variety of social situations.

Not only does flash photography mean that there is no light, it can be used when the photographer wants to balance out the light in an unevenly lit photos, such as patches of underexposure in a scene. This occurs in a variety of places, especially outside where there are shadows under trees on a sunny day for example.

Flash photography indoors is a must. This is crucial when you are photographing things that move, such as people or pets. It can be very frustrating to photograph something indoors and your shots turn out blurry. This is because the shutter is slowing down to let more light in. Unfortunately when it slows down, you will see blurs of movement across your image that look rather like streaks of light.

In social situations, at restaurants for example, you may want to take a group shot. This is where flash photography is used. In situations like this you will see that the cameras automatic mode pops up the flash without any prompting.

One important thing to remember when you are doing flash photography is not to stand too close to the people you are photographing them. If you do, their faces may turn out as white as ghosts and very overexposed. Flash photography requires that you stand just the right distance away from your subject. You can have the opposite happen too. If you stand too far away, the flash won’t be cast out enough to light up your group of people and you’ll be left with an underexposed image, even though you are using the flash.

When you are doing flash photography, make sure you do not hold it directly at a reflective surface. Mirrors and windows are notorious for reflecting that hugely bright white spot back at us and distracting us from the true photo. If you notice this, then take the shot again but this time stand on an angle just enough to get your reflection out of the scene.

Flash photography is fun, but it does take some mastery. Not only can you shoot front on, but you can bounce the flash. I don’t mean literally! Bouncing the flash means holding the camera towards your subject and then holding the flash up towards the wall. What will happen is that the light from the flash throws a gentle light over the scene. It looks like there is a completely different light in the room as this is done.

If flash photography is something you really want to master, then think of it as a torch, or a flash light. Practice moving your torch around the room and see what different light you get. Sometimes you’ll notice that you get a bright ligt and sometimes not. Try this experiment at home. Flash photography can be done using the flash you have on your camera, or by a flash that attaches separately to the camera.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (5)

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  1. Alicia says:

    I was photographing my work function and the shots turned out ok, but not too good. I think I was stadning too far back. thanks for showing us newbies how to use flash photography properly.

  2. Damian says:

    Hey Amy, can you explain how the flash comes off your camera to be able to bounce it off the ceiling? How does this work?

  3. Angela says:

    Hello. I really enjoyed this article about the flash photography. I will endevour to get good photos of people at night time.

  4. Paul says:

    Thanks for your article! I never know how to use the flash properly, let alone get into flash photography seriously. Thanks a million.

  5. Amy Graham says:

    Thanks for the great info. I love your ezines by the way, I have learned a lot.

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