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7 - An Advanced Light Topic

Beginners should come back to this section later.

Dark Backgrounds with Flash

When we photograph a group at a dining room table, with a pop-up flash, the exposure is uneven.

People close to the flash are overexposed, and people at the other end of the table are underexposed.

Yet, if we were to photograph the same group, outside, sitting at a picnic table, everyone would be exposed properly.


The distance of the light from the subject determines the evenness light.

When photographing the group at the picnic table, the light sources, the sun and sky, are far away.

So, there's no difference in the brightness of the light.

Indoors, with a light source that's very close to the people at the dining room table, there's a huge difference in brightness.

This happens because the light spreads out, gets dimmer, very quickly.

How can this knowledge make for better photographs?



If you're photographing an interior, you'll know that the light from the windows will not illuminate the entire space.

The amount of light diminishes quickly as it spreads out from the windows.

If you were to set your exposure for the light near the windows, the area of the room furthest from the windows will be very dark.

Or, if you were to set your exposure for the darkest part of the room, the area near the windows would be too bright.

You'll know to use bounce flash (aim a flash at the ceiling), or use other lights to supplement the window light.

Groups of People

If you're photographing a group of people indoors, use a separate flash on your camera..

Bounce the light from the flash off of the ceiling.

The people near the camera, and those further away, will be more evenly lighted.