To flash or not to flash?

To flash or not to flash, that is the question I am presented with the most from new photographers.  The truth is, there is no right answer.  The use of flash will always depend on what you as the photographer want for an end result.    So I went ahead and put together a couple of examples of how flash can effect your photo.

Ok, so here is the setup:  My Canon G9 (that’s right, a point and shoot) and its on camera flash, my bathroom window, and my lovely model Spruce Stickman. I set it up so I’ll be shooting into the light which in this case is the sky.  I think this is the most problematic situation to tackle especially when using on camera flash.  The G9 is in AV mode  at f -5.6,  ISO 80,  and the shutter speed was altered in one example  to reduce the ambient light and darken the exposure.

The first shot was just a basic exposure.  Cameras will usually expose for the background in this situation and depending on how bright it is your model could wind up in the shadows.

ISO 80, F5.6, 1/400, no flash

So Spruce is in the shadows and can use a little light.  In the next photo I turned the flash on and set it for no compensation.

ISO 80, F5.6, 1/400 Flash is on, no compensation.

Alright, so we added a little flash and things are looking pretty good.  Let´s experiment and see what else we can get by adjusting the flash output.  In the next photo I lowered the flash compensation to -1.  The basic exposure stayed the same.

ISO 80, F5.6, 1/400 Flash compensation -1

By lowering the flash compensation you can give the photo a more natural look as seen in the last photo.  On with the experimenting, next we will increase the flash compensation.

ISO 80, F 5.6, 1/400 Flash compensation +1

The last photo has Spruce  looking great with plenty of detail in the background.  Here is a simple little trick to add even more drama to this photo.  We lower the background exposure by 1 stop and increase the flash at +1  which will make the basic exposure darker but give a nice bright look to our subject.

ISO 80, F7.1, 1/500 Flash exposure compensation +1

Here is how I applied the last technique on a larger scale.

Things to note:

– Almost every camera with a flash has flash exposure compensation it could also be called FEL or be a lightning bolt with a +/-. Read your manual to see how to change flash output for your camera.

– I used my G9 because everyone has a point and shoot, and they are capable of taking great photo’s even with on camera flash.  Just make sure you stay with in the range of the flash.

Now go out and experiment yourself and post your results.

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