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Flash: It’s not for everyone

July 24, 2010

Last week we started a discussion on lighting, and this week I think we will go into lighting in a little more detail.

Specifically, we are going to talk about your flash and flash photography. For those of you that live in a cave and don't know about the flash, it is the thing that sends out light from your camera, shines on your subject and gives your camera enough information to make a decent picture. But then again, if you live in a cave, I'm sure more than anyone, you are already aware of the benefits of flash.

The flash is either built into your camera or it is an attachment that can be mounted onto the body of your camera. If it is built into your camera, it gets power from the battery in your camera to function. If it is a separate attachment, it gets power from either standard AA batteries or some kind of rechargeable power pack.

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A camera with a built-in flash usually has at least three basic settings, on, off and automatic. Just like it sounds, the flash is either always on, always off or the camera is smart enough to decide when you need flash and when you don't. Flash units that attach to the camera can be much more sophisticated and have greater range. The flash built into your camera is usually designed for taking pictures of people or subjects within a distance of around 15 to 20 feet at the most. Anything beyond that and the flash will be ineffective. When you see all the flashes going off in the nose bleed seats at a sporting event or a concert they aren't doing anything other than running down the batteries.

You can leave your flash in the off position most of the time when you are outdoors during daylight hours and get great results as long as your subject is not facing away from the sun. Indoors and at night, you will usually need to turn your flash to the on position. Even if you turn on all the lights in the room, it is usually not enough light to take a pleasing portrait of a person, and, depending on the type of light bulbs in the room, it can give them a yellow, blue or green skin tone and most people don't want to look like they are going to be sick or have just returned from another planet.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to photography, and knowing when to use your flash will definitely improve your pictures.

(Brent Kepner is the Owner and Photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer as well as a certified professional photographer.)



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