What are the common uses of flash in photography? In this article, I will go through 5 flash photography ideas I like to use.
Almost everyone who starts out photographing does so relying upon ambient light. As you grow in the field and start to develop a body of work, you start to look for ways to have more control over your images and the first step is artificial lighting.
The first thing I consider when building a mood board for a photo shoot is the light I’m planning of using. If I already know to photograph in the evening, I make sure I have my flash to fill in the absence of ambient light. To clarify, I only talk about a portable flash in this article. There are multiple ways of using the flash in the studio because of the space and multitude of lights available. The difference in the soft and harsh light is basically how visible shadows there are in the image.
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1.Combination of Flash and Outdoor Light
When balancing flash and natural light, you can swing it in either direction – toward the flash for a dramatic look or toward the natural light for a subtly lit look. In fact, you can get both looks with either if done right. Both have their uses and their place. Forget that the flash should be used only to bring light into the picture, but not to be used if there is enough ambient light.
The combination of a natural light source and a flash provides a multidimensional feel to the image. This is similar to a studio setting, where you would use a separate light for the background. Except that in this case you have an incredible setting to shoot with.
This is usually popular in real estate photography, where you utilize the light bouncing from the walls to properly light a subject or space without visible shadows. Photographing groups of people in different venues requires a larger source of light and bouncing your light from the wall or a ceiling will provide that.
When bouncing the flash you will immediately improve the quality of the light:
- Increase the relative size of the light source (softer light)
- Change the direction of the light, which in turn changes the direction of the shadows
Make sure you consider the direction of the flash and the color of the surface you bounce it from. Instead of using only the surrounding walls, you can use a foamboard or a reflector.
3.Flash With a Diffuser
To soften a harsh flash light, you have to use a diffuser – this can be anything from a light white fabric to softbox or even a shoot-through umbrella. The easiest way is to hang a white fabric on two stands and to shoot the flash through that. The light will be spread out evenly on the subject and the background. For this, you would have to be able to place the flash separately from your camera.
There are many tutorials on youtube for a DIY flash softbox. The larger the diffuser is, the more broadly the light will flow. There is numerous light-modifying equipment that is made for shoe-mount flash and can be used with stands, umbrellas, and so forth.
4.Bounce Flash with an Umbrella
There are two kinds of umbrellas; ones you can diffuse the light through and ones you can bounce the light from. By using an umbrella to bounce your flash, you control the area the light falls.This bounce umbrella, parabolic in shape, keeps the light closer to the same distance from the subject. The light can be directed more narrowly onto your subject.
The quality of this light will be somewhat soft; it will still have some smooth shadows. While it is less diffused than the shoot-through umbrella, the bounce creates a more even light with the added wrap for cutting contrast. Let’s also dispel the myth: you shouldn’t use a huge umbrella with a small Speedlight.
5. Direct flash
This is the most common way of using flash; you’ve seen images like this in music venues and festivals but in quick portraits too. This is an effortless way to portray exactly what you see. The light is very invasive and can leave your subject drained. This harsh of a light will expose everything – all the imperfections people have and which they are not always comfortable with. However, it’s also incredibly popular with mainstream fashion photographers and editors. Direct flash is often used to illustrate a harsh mid-day sunlight when positioned at 11 o’clock from the objects.
To overcome these problems, one has to be more familiar with the equipment and technical elements such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. As you progress, you’ll probably want to start getting your flash off the camera and working with modifiers like umbrellas and softboxes. Start by learning how the ambient light flows in your images slowly adding flash lighting to them.