photo by Andy Rasheed/eyefood

On-Camera Flash

May 9, 2012

Flash is very versatile; it can be used as the primary or secondary light source, a means of balancing or “fill lighting” subjects shot in bright sunlight, or just to add a little detail where it’s needed.

The idea of using flash seems to strike fear into the hearts of inexperienced photographers. In essence it’s a light source made to synchronise with a cameras shutter. Read on and hopefully I can dispel your fears!!!

Modern flashguns have become complex apparatus capable of many functions. It’s easy to be overwhelmed but don’t let the complexity of the device freak you out. Like most high-tech devices they are designed for a wide variety of potential applications and you will probably only ever find a regular use for 20% of what they offer. Target one basic aspect of the flash at a time and work with it until it becomes part of your practice then move to the next function until you have a handle on the functions that are relevant to your areas of interest.


Flash used as a main light in conjunction with the sun as a back light. I realise this shot actually has the flash off the camera, so I am currently in hiding from the flash police.








Many photographers pull out a new piece of kit and just start using it. If you want to be really outlandish you can read the manual, or optionally you can research online for videos on basic flash operations. Firstly familiarise yourself with your flash and its rudimentary settings.

Work initially with either Manual or TTL (“Through The Lens” metering) settings. The bottom line is you will need to know how to change the output of the flash so you have control of how much light it produces. Don’t be afraid. This gives you a way to add or reduce the amount of flash relative to other light sources and shutter speeds. If the power of the flash is reduced it will blend more with other light sources and if it is raised it will dominate.

The exposure from a flash can be controlled in a few ways, some of which are

The power setting on the unit itself

The distance of the flash/light source relative to the subject

The size of aperture

Later I will talk about bouncing and diffusing light, which will also influences the strength of the light source.

Flash was used to balance out the natural light and fill in any deep shadows around the arborist’s face.






In Practice

Your assignment is to go and shoot a back lit subject and a subject in low light, both with and without a flash. Use a variety of output settings and analyse the effect the flash brings to the image.

Keep note of what you are doing and then replicate the processes that work best until they become part of your repertoire. The only way to make informed, conscious choices is experience.

It is imperative not to be too precious about your work. True, you may have a handful of masterpieces under your belt, but a passionate and diligent photographer’s finest work is always yet to come.

Let me know if you have any discoveries, questions or ideas for future posts.

If you liked this share it around.

Cheers, Andy

Images and text © Andy Rasheed 2012

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