We’re often asked about using flash when taking photographs. Many people are disappointed with their on camera flash producing flat, dull, 2 dimensional images – not to mention red eye (see a previous post on that topic). So the answer most jump to is to buy an external flash unit – take care, make sure the one you buy is compatible with your specific camera system.
But once many have got their (not inexpensive) flash, they’re still at a loss as to why their photographs haven’t taken a quantum leap forward. The problem usually comes down to the setting that most people adopt – full automatic. To get the most out of your flash, you need to take control.
This could mean moving to a manual setting, or perhaps adopting a little flash exposure compensation (similar to exposure compensation on your camera). Using the flexibility that your flash unit offers isn’t just down to the amount of oomph it outputs, i.e. the brightness of the light – it’s what you do with that light. When using flash, you’re often handling two exposures in one – there’s usually still some ambient/natural/artificial light present in your exposure and you need to get to grips with handling both light sources.
Topics like white balance or colour temperature come into play when you have multiple light sources. How the light is “bounced” around can have a dramatic impact on the results too.
Take time to get to know your kit and work out what (often inexpensive) add ons you might benefit from – reflectors, coloured gels and so on.
All of these topics and more are covered in our Introduction to Flash Photography course – check it out, you might find it illuminating.