Flash photography. These words bring fear to the heart of many photographers, young and old. Below are a few tips to help de-mystify the subject of flash photography.
Some of the tips listed will only refer to Digital SLR users. These cameras allow you to manually adjust settings, change lenses, and also they provide a hotshoe to mount an external flash. This external flash is much more powerful than the built in flash, & it can give you the option to bounce and diffuse the flash.
Point and shoot cameras will often have a built in flash of their own. This does not provide the creativity of the SLR camera, but some of the following suggestions will refer to these cameras as well.
# 1) Clearly see your background: Anything in your field of view behind your subject will also be in your finished photograph. Carefully check to see that any shiny metallic surfaces or mirrors are not lurking there. The light from your flash will bounce off these surfaces and come right back to your lens. The result being a big blob of white light.
# 2) Be sure to charge your batteries: The condition of your batteries will determine how long it will take your flash to recharge. In other words, how long before you can shoot another picture. The fresher your batteries are the quicker you can shoot again. Also, if your flash does not use it's complete charge, your recycle time will be a lot faster. It is always important to have fresh batteries, & maybe even a backup set.
# 3) Flash Falloff: Flash falloff is when the flash is more powerful in the center of the photo. This is most common with the compact cameras. To overcome this, try and position your subject to be in the area with the best light.
# 4) Type of Light: Light from a flash can often be very harsh. It is often helpful to bounce the flash off a wall or the ceiling, especially lighter colored ones. Another handy tip is to use a diffuser over the flash. Small plastic units will work, some use hosiery, some will angle a white notecard in front of the flash. Trial and error will help you determine what works best for you. Keep in mind that diffusers will reduce the amount of light produced. You must adjust your exposures accordingly.