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#1 - Flash

1 - Introduction

To get more out of your flash, read your instruction manual  and experiment with the following four situations.

First, let's look at how your flash is probably set to operate on your camera.

2 - Default Flash Settings

Does your flash pop up automatically when there's little light?

Digital SLR Cameras

The flash will pop up automatically, when there's little light, if you're using any of the following exposure modes.

• Auto setting (Green camera or green box)

• Icons such as the head and the jogger

When using the "letter" exposure modes (A or Av, S or Tv, or P), you have to push a button near the flash to pop it up.

Point-and-shoot Cameras

The flash will pop up automatically when there's little light.

3 - Turn the Flash Off

Don't use the flash when the existing light is better than the light from your flash.

For example, the glow of birthday cake candles on a child's face is probably better than the glare of a flash.

Digital SLR Cameras

Use A or Av, S or Tv, or P.

The flash will not pop up unless you push the button to make it pop up.

Some digital SLR cameras have a No Flash exposure mode icon.

You can use this setting, but the camera will preset everything else for you.

Point-and-shoot Cameras

To turn the flash off, press the flash icon (lightning bolt) repeatedly until you see a lightning bolt icon with a line through it on the LCD screen.

Remember to restore the flash to automatic operation.

Exercise

Find an indoor scene that has light that's better than the light from your flash, and do the following.

1) Take a photograph of the scene using the flash.

2) Take a photograph of the scene without the flash.

You may have to place the camera on a surface to prevent camera shake, because the shutter speed may be long.

4 - Turn the Flash On in the Sun

(Fill-in Flash)

If you're photographing someone with a shadow on their face, say from the brim of a hat, the shadow will be much darker in the photograph.

You can use your flash to brighten, fill in, the shadow.

Digital SLR Cameras

Use A or Av, S or Tv, or P.

Then press the flash button to pop it up.

Point-and-shoot Cameras

The flash won't pop up in the sun.

To turn the flash on in the sun, press the flash icon (lightning bolt) repeatedly until you see a lightning bolt icon accompanied by the word On on the LCD screen.

Remember to restore the flash to automatic operation.

Exercise

Go outside on a sunny day and do the following.

1) Take a photograph of someone, or an object, that has a shadow, without the flash.

2) Photograph the person or object, again, with the flash on.

Because on-camera flashes only reach about ten feet, use fill-in flash only when the subject is close to you.

More

Go to Fill-in Flash.

5 - Use the Night (Twilight)

Portrait Setting

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Most cameras have a setting called Night Portrait or Twilight Portrait.

Often, the icon for this setting is a person with a crescent moon or star.

When you use this feature, your camera will use two light sources: the flash and the existing light in the background.

An Example

Let's say you're photographing your friends at night.

They're sitting at a cafe in Paris, and there's a fountain nearby.

If you use the flash only, your friends will be well-exposed.

The fountain will be too dark though.

If you use the Night Portrait setting, the flash will illuminate your friends.

And, the shutter will stay open long enough to gather light from the fountain.

You'll be able to see your friends because of the flash, and the fountain, because of a long shutter speed.

Exercise

1) Look in the camera instruction manual for how to turn on the Night Portrait setting.

2) Using flash, photograph a scene at night where the subject is close to the camera, and there's a background that's important to the photograph.

3) Photograph the same scene using the Night Portrait setting.

6 - Frozen with a Blurred Image

You can also use the Night Portrait setting to photograph movement that's both sharp and blurred.

The movement is frozen by the quick blink of the flash.

And, the movement is blurred from the long shutter speed.

Exercise

Try photographing someone blowing his or her long hair around with a blow dryer, or someone jumping, or someone splashing water, or ?