Monday, October 3, 2011
On camera flash
There are a lot of photographers out there in the world that passionately hate on camera flash. I am not one of them. If done right you can add all kinds of drama and motion by using your on camera flash.
If you set your shutter speed relativity slow (1/30 or slower) and then fire some on camera flash you can get some great effects. Remember that shutter speed controls the ambient light and the aperture controls the flash exposure. So you can manipulate them independently of each other. Here are a few examples.
Motion blur by itself is not always ideal, but with on camera flash you can get your subject sharp and everything else in motion in the frame will show motion blur. Your shutter speed and movement in the frame will determine how much motion blur is in the shot.
Burning in color. When you combine flash with longer shutter speeds you manipulate the color saturation and contrast pretty easily. You will use your flash and aperture to control the exposure of your subject. Just like in other situations, your shutter speed controls the ambient exposure. In this instance, when you are using longer shutter speeds, you control how the subject blends with the rest of the frame. The flash will get your subject illuminated and sharp and the longer shutter speed burns in the ambient light. You adjust the shutter speed to choose how the subject and the rest of the frame blend together.
Bounce Flash. This technique is very easy and flattering provided that you have a wall with a neutral color that you can shoot next to. All that you need to do is move your subject near a wall and then turn your flash toward the wall. The light will bounce off of the wall and become a larger source of light which in turn will make it softer.
Another way I enjoy shooting with on camera flash is in manual mode with the flash head zoomed in as far as it can go. I can get the tightest area of illumination without going to a grid or snoot. Then I crank up the shutter speed to let in all of the shadows around the center of light. When you shoot like this your composition gets pretty stagnant, but I like the lighting in this set up so I will change my crop in post to mix it up a bit. I find that my Lumopro LP160 works the easiest with this set up. The manual buttons on the back make changing the zoom and power on the fly fast and easy.
One of the most widely used on camera flash techniques is fill flash. You use fill flash to fill in the shadows on your subject. It is pretty straight forward, but one way to use fill flash is in sunlight. By throwing some flash on a subject when they are outside you control shadows under the eyes so that they do not get lost. You can also turn your subject's back to the sun and use fill flash to balance the shadows with the bright sun behind.
As you can see there are many reasons to use on camera flash. So put a flash in your hot shoe, go out, and light it up.