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Flash Photography Can Be a Bit Hit or Miss

Use Our Guide And Tips For Better Flash Photography

Good flash photography can open up a whole new world of creativity and add another string to your bow! For many people, your flash gun can be your best friend or your least used bit of kit! The aim of this section, is to show you how to use a flash gun more effectively and to give consistently better results.

As you can see from the example below, direct flash will give you harsh shadows, reflections of the flashlight on surfaces behind the subject and a "cool" look to the picture. Whereas, by simply bouncing the flash you lose the reflections and shadows and get a much more pleasing, warm and natural look.

Many people spend good money on the latest flashguns, with all the gizmos and buttons, thinking that is all they need and then realise it can take a bit more effort to get the desired results.

The main problem when shooting flash photography is the size of the actual flash tube in the head (or the lack of size to be more precise). By aiming directly at the subject you are simply asking for trouble so a little help is needed.

Diffusing the Flash Light

As in the section below, you can if possible, bounce and tilt the head to reflect the light from another surface thereby diffusing the light. An alternative would be to tape some tissue or cloth over the end of the flash or buy a dedicated flash diffuser, again to diffuse the harsh light. Many speedlights now have a built in mini diffuser that you can flip out when required.

My main advice if using a shoe mounted flash gun on an SLR? Take it off the camera. You will significantly reduce the chance of red-eye whilst at the same time produce a much more pleasing effect. Either hold it in your hand and bounce the light until you get the desired effect or use a bracket to attach it to the base of your camera and allows you to fire the flash backwards into a brolly for example.

Flash Photography Direct Flash

Direct Flash

Flash Photography Bounced Flash

Bounced Flash

You could even buy a long enough cable and look for an adapter that will allow you to attach one or two flashguns to a tripod. This use of flash photography will be about as near to studio quality without actually having a studio. Basically, once you have one or two flashguns, play about with them and learn how the light actually works. Once you master it, you can get away without owning expensive studio lights for just about any occasion!

Off Camera Flash

One of my favourite techniques for speedlight photography is to use two speedlights, off camera, with a set of Pocket Wizards. These are without doubt, the handiest piece of lighting kit I have used other than traditional studio lights. They can be fired via radio signals from incredible distances and still utilize your camera’s ETTL system allowing your speedlights to retain full auto capability.

The following links are just a short, simple guide to get you started, there are MANY different ways of using flashguns in your photography, and just as many TYPES of flashgun, the best advice is to practice, practice, practice!

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