Saturday, September 14, 2013

Using Flash In Daylight

Managing Contrast and Exposing Detail

When should you use flash?

Your camera might try to answer the question for you. When light levels are low, some cameras will enable their flash feature automatically. Sometimes this is helpful, and sometimes it's a bad idea.

Flash can ruin a photo when it overpowers available light, especially when the available light has a quality that works well with the photo.

Conversely, we might want to add flash to photos taken in bright light. Flash can expose details that would otherwise have been obscured by deep shadows.

A camera set to "automatic mode" isn't smart enough to suggest all of the available options. If we want to use flash creatively, we need to make our own decisions, take control and override the camera's recommendations.

Compare the images below. See if you prefer one over the other.

a photo of a cyclist at the obelisk in central park

a photograph of a cyclist near the obelisk in central park

I like both photos. The second photo with the cyclist in the shadows is intriguing. The rider is anonymous and mysterious.

The first photo, where the cyclist is illuminated by flash, shows more color and detail.

There's no right or wrong way to use flash or to choose to omit it. The outcomes will be different, but that's the magic of photography. We can render our subjects in different ways.

When do you use flash? When it will help you to create a photo that looks the way that you want it to look.

Flash can modify photos in many ways depending on the direction, quality, and intensity of the light that it adds to the scene. The more we understand about what flash can do, the better we can decide how and when to use it.

        Canon EOS 5D Mark III
        Canon 24-105 f/4L IS
        Canon 580EX II Speed Light

Light happens.  Be ready.  Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
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