Photo Flash – What this Article is about

sample photos without and with fill flash

This article explains the basics of using the flash in digital photography.

Flash is the simplest method to influence the light – the most important element in photography.
Using it properly will change your pictures in a way you cannot do it later on in image processing on your computer, so it pays off to familiarize with it and to pay attention at the time of shooting.

The chapters of this article cover three areas:

When should I take a photo with or without flash?

There are three typical shooting situations to distinguish:

  • Flash as the main source of light if ambient light is too low
  • Fill flash to lighten up shadows when the ambient light is bright
  • „Freeze“ fast moving subjects on your photo.

Technical basis that you need to understand how ambient light and light from the flash will get mixed:

  • Flash synchronization, i.e. the coordination of the very short flash burst with the longer overall exposure time
  • Flash exposure compensation, i.e. manual adjustment to make the flash brighter or darker than the camera electronics would do automatically
  • Flash sync speed, i.e. the shortest exposure time that your camera can use with a flash
  • The longest exposure time that your camera allows when using a flash

The creative aspects to shape the light for a certain type of look:

  • Bounced flash, i.e. to direct the flash up to the ceiling and from there to your subject for softer light falling onto it diagonally.
  • Accessories to soften the flash light, so called „bouncers“ and „diffusers“.