to flash or not to flash…

So I used to consider myself a natural light photographer and I still prefer natural light to any other but now I find myself being an “available light” photographer-meaning if natural light is available I will use it but if not I must supplement-whatever is available. That can mean flash, studio lights, street lamps, sunlight, even headlights on a car!  Here are some things about flash:

1) you can use it and make it look natural

These are SOOC (straight out of camera) but as you can see without the flash she was flat but it was still too bright for her to look towards the sun so I used the flash in the second one-not too bad (I just dialed down the intensity), and then as the sun started to set I could have her turn towards the sun a little and get that beautiful evening natural light. Obviously my preference is the last image but you only have a few moments of that beautiful light that is not too harsh to look a little towards. And sometimes there is no sun at all!

2) never use your pop-up flash (of if you do try to diffuse it)…My 5d Mark II does not even have an on-board flash-that’s right, a camera with no flash. Why? Because pop-up flashes are ugly so they don’t put them on professional camera! If that is all you have, though, and you don’t want to fool with an external unit try to diffuse it! The sell cheap, little diffusers that may help!

or this….

3) use an external flash if you can! And they even make diffusers for these too!

4) but the best way is to use an external flash and get it off your camera…this is obviously more expensive and more technical but it works amazing! Here is a softbox fashioned for an external flash-all I have to do is add wireless triggers to my camera and the flash unit and I am ready to go!

  • Diann Aguilar - February 11, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    I always see photographers using the external flash mounted on their camera at weddings…
    any tips regarding this?
    Also- why does the external flash create a different affect from just the pop up?? I understand how the pop up floods everything with light… why does a flash just a few inches higher make a difference??ReplyCancel

    • kansas - February 11, 2011 - 4:01 pm

      The very best you can do is get your flash off your camera (google OCF or off camera flash and you will get a plethora of information or go to but if not use your external flash and use the rotation to bounce the light off a neutral surface to diffuse the light. The differences between a pop-up and an external flash is that you can rotate the head (or flash part) of the external flash and it is more powerful. It is not the height necessarily that is the difference, it is being able to diffuse the light by turning the unit to bounce off a white wall or the ceiling or whatever. Also with an external and the right hook up you can trigger the flash holding it anywhere (like behind a couple at night for a dramatic shot-check out on the bennett wedding {their first dance-flash triggered off camera held by my husband} as well as Carla and Adam’s engagement session {their images in the street-the flash was on the ground behind them}).ReplyCancel

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