When to Use Flash in Photography: A Guide for Beginners

While photographers admire the natural, ambient light, it’s still important to know when to use flash in photography in dim light conditions. This knowledge can boost your confidence in all shooting areas. So if you’re a beginner in the field who wants to ace flash, consider yourself lucky.

Today’s guide will unveil the secrets to work with flash in real life shooting situations. Let’s get started.

1. Indoors 

Wedding Reception, Church, and Ballroom

Being a seasoned photographer, you should follow a standard lighting plan to shoot throughout the day flawlessly. Upscale DSLRs might be sufficiently flexible to shoot pictures in dim light conditions, but it revolves around compromises. In case the lighting is very inferior, you will get blurry pictures owing to camera shake.

Alternatively, you will have to boost the ISO range, which leads to noisy images, drastically lowers dynamic range, and harms the colors. In simple terms, there is very little room for post processing. If you want to prevent this and possibly decrease the post processing time, simply employ flash. Kickstart with a basic configuration. For starters, position the flash on the camera, and if you want to be creative, utilize flash in an off-camera arrangement. The latter will make the pictures balanced and dramatic.

Church, ballroom, and reception areas usually have below ideal light. Therefore, it is a photographer’s job to make a primary source of light. This needs to be more charming and brighter than the low-light conditions. However, churches don’t permit flash in religious ceremonies. So, talk to the church officials about using artificial light prior to the ceremony. Other places can allow light modifiers and strobes.

So, how will you go through this shoot? Mount the flash on the camera if the ceiling is not that high. This way, you will bounce light off the nearest white walls or ceiling. But remember to avoid bounce flash in case the ceiling and walls are of contrasting shades. The reason is because the light will assume the shade of where it’s being bounced from. Ideally, green walls exude an elegant color on the subject.

The photographers who worry about the time needed in post processing and during the shoot are advised to bring a bounce card. It is portable and doesn’t consume much space. And if you ever forget the bounce card, it can be made immediately from simple white paper. Take gaffers tape, elastic band, or scotch tape to position the handmade bounce card at the top of the flash. This is way better than direct flash.

Do you want to take things up a notch? A more complicated arrangement includes shifting the light source away from the gadget. In the photography realm, this is known as “off-camera flash”. Professionals can configure some lights that will brighten up the spot from different angles. Shooting through an umbrella, the placement of a flash behind the subject, or one flash bouncing off can result in amazing pictures in any indoor environment.

Capturing Indoor Details

Event photographers need to capture details of an indoor event. Some of their clients include bakers, wedding planners, and florists. It’s the event photographer’s job to showcase these details.

Now let’s talk about what materials are required to fulfill this expectation. You don’t need more than a ballroom event for illuminating the details. However, it’s simpler to work with static materials. The photographers are advised to shoot at a semi-lit place if they don’t want to opt for flash in such settings.

So get yourself a camera set at slow shutter speed and a tripod. This procedure will guarantee that the gadget accumulates enough light to create a well-balanced and precise picture. However, don’t expect a quick process. But the photographers who lack time, illuminate your workspace abundantly. For this purpose, a mounted flash on the camera’s top bouncing off the white card can be enough.

2. Outdoors

When the Subject Is Dimly Lit

Many professionals don’t touch flash outdoors. But in the afternoon, your camera will find it challenging to shoot in the limited light. This means that to get the job done, an alternate light source is required. Photographers should be adept at setting up artificial light.

For instance, you can employ one speedlight situated on the left side of the subject. Simultaneously, shoot through a medium umbrella at full power.

When Shooting Backlit

Capturing subjects backlit can make a good boundary and add more depth to your pictures. But if your subject is heavily backlit, the opposite side of the subject can be underexposed.

Yes, a reflector and assistant can be helpful to achieve a well-balanced exposure from the front, don’t underestimate the power of flash as well. A singular diffused light located away from the gadget is enough. Most photographers employ a softbox or umbrella on a stand too.

Sunny Days

On days like this, when the blazing sun is directly overhead, photographers are tested to prevent harsh shadows and hot spots. Even though stunning work is possible in intense sunlight, shooting portraits is not a piece of cake.

Just like above, it’s advised to get a simple softbox or umbrella. The accurate placement of flash prevents unpleasant shadows on a subject’s face. As a result, your subjects will be beautifully exposed.

Prevent Environmental Color Casts

Imagine you’re shooting amidst rich greenery. How can you prevent the green reflection on skin tones of your subjects? No one wants to brush or color correct skin tones! When it comes to a natural reflector, the subject usually assumes the shade of the reflective surface.

This issue gets bigger in post processing. Although the camera brings no solution for this, this effect can be minimized via a reflector directly beside the subject. Fill flash such as modifiers, softbox, or umbrella can be utilized to brighten up the subject.

This will isolate your subject from the background and minimize color reflection. Sorry photographers find flash simpler than the reflector, particularly if they want to illuminate the subject from varying angles.

Last Words

This guide shows that flash enables you to utilize another dimension in your shoots. Allow your creativity to work on flash photography. Irrespective of your niche, this is a basic skill to learn.

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