Seven Pop Up Flash Tips
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
Here are some tips to improve upon the use of your built-in/pop-up flash.
Use a fast shutter speed. Since the light from the flash provides a burst of bright illumination, you will require a fast shutter speed so that the photograph is not overexposed. In tandem with this, use a low ISO even in dark surroundings to help avoid over exposure. The downside to this is that the background will tend to be under-exposed as the ambient light will not be captured due to the fast shutter speed. Note that the shutter does not control the flash, but the aperture does.
Use flash compensation. You can adjust the power your D-SLR’s built-in flash, so that a photograph does not become washed out or under-exposed. Usually, the flash compensation is indicated in positive or negative “stops”, from -2 to +2. Shift the indicator to the negative side to reduce the flash, shift it toward the positive side to boost the flash. “Stopping down” the flash allows you to take advantage of ambient light, and use the flash as a “fill light”. This produces a better photograph, instead of replacing ALL of the light in the photograph with only the light that comes from the flash. Remember that when you change this setting, it remains there until you change it back again.
Stay close to your subject. If you’re looking to light up your subject, you’ll need to be relatively close to it (within 10 feet or so). A camera’s built-in flash isn’t as powerful as an external flash, so you’ll need to get close enough for the light to reach your subject.
Use slow shutter sync. The camera will extend the shutter time to allow more of the background to show up (illuminated by the ambient light), while the flash illuminates the foreground. This is only possible in aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual modes on your camera. For automated cameras, this setting is often used on the “night” shooting mode.
Use rear curtain sync or front curtain sync. Rear curtain sync synchronizes the flash to fire at the very end of the photograph’s exposure. This is used during action photography to “freeze” the motion occurring in the shot, while adequately exposing the background. Front curtain sync synchronizes the flash to fire at the very beginning of the photograph’s exposure. The shutter remains open after the flash fires, in order to capture ambient light. Front curtain sync is best for still shots in which the action doesn’t need to be “frozen”.
Diffuse your flash. A diffuser will soften the quality of light coming from your pop-up flash. Diffusing the flash can be as simple is putting a few strips of clear tape over the flash – the light is softened, but still comes through brightly. Or, you can purchase a diffuser like this one.
Bounce the light. Put a playing card under the edge of the flash, which will angle (or “bounce”) the light upward. Or, you can buy a product such as this one.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for working with your camera’s built-in flash? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Photo credit: “Nikon D90″ by tarunactivity on Flickr Creative Commons.
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