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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Photography 101 {Flash and my 2¢}

There are some absolutely wonderful things you can do with a flash.  There really are!  And after I say what I'm going to say, I'm going to stand by that!  Flashes are awesome!

BUT... 'cause you knew my big but was coming, for those who are learning the ins and outs of all those buttons and settings on their cameras, a flash can be a hindrance.  And it usually ends up being an additional obstacle that prevents folks from learning the basics.  Not to mention the fact that flash photos can make people look quite sickly.  So I'm gonna say this.  Please consider turning off the flash if you're just learning.  We're not going to get into a discussion about diffusers or bouncing or slow sync. These are wonderful things for a photographer to know, but they are advanced maneuvers, and I'm sticking to my promise that I'm going to keep this simple. It's super duper important for photographers to "see" light, where it comes from and where it's going.  And a flash photography will build upon that foundation.  But you've gotta have the foundation first.  So just turn off your flash while we're learning the basics.  Okay?

Still not convinced?
Here are 4 good reasons to turn off your flash.

1)  The primary reason that folks want to use a flash is because there isn't enough light. There are ways to help you take photos in low light without using a flash.  Like changing your ISO and/or decreasing your f-stop.  Using these techniques will likely give you the image you have in your head anyway.
2)  Unless you've studied Photography 202, images taken with a flash usually end up looking washed out and create harsh shadows.  Top it off with neon red eyes, and it ain't pretty folks.  And your kids are way cuter than that.
A little washed out. Okay a lot washed out.  Need I say more?
(Sunny, forgive me.  You are not a pale-faced, translucent ghoul!)
3)  It's not easy to use flash through glass.  Like photos taken at the zoo or at the aquarium.  The harsh light can bounce off things light the tv, mirrors, or computer screen, and then you've got nasty light blobs on your photos.  Surely that's not what you had in mind.
4)  A flash can't reach a large distance.  Like your son playing baseball out on the field or a landscape shot of a gorgeous sunset. On the other hand, learning how to correctly meter your camera will help you capture an images that are far away.

So see the little lightening bolt that represents your camera's flash?  Turn it to the setting that has the line through it, like the last one pictured here, at least until you learn the basics.

The new poll is over there on the right.  Let me know what you'd like to see next!

Photography 101
PS-There are some absolutely wonderful things you can do with a flash.


  1. I have loved working without my flash, it really has made me look more at the lighting.. however it did backfire on me the other night. :) but it made me laugh. I went out to a late night dinner with my guild in a dark restaurant, but I couldn't take any pictures as I couldn't figure out how to turn the flash on!! It made me laugh, I have been working hard at doing natural outdoor pictures when possible, and working with artificial lighting as needed indoors, and haven't used my flash yet!! Don't get me wrong, not complaining, just laughing at myself.


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