Camera flash for beginners

The little pop up camera flash doesn’t really work well, does it? You get red eye a lot of the time, especially with event photos taken in low light. And it’s impossible to change the direction of the light. Sure you can get small modifiers that diffuse the light, but you don’t really have many options.

Maybe it’s time to invest in an external camera flash so you can properly light your photos.

Sometimes you just need some extra light in your shot.

Here are a couple of scenarios where this might occur.

  • It’s night time and you have to shoot your best friend’s birthday party. You don’t want to use the available room light and you don’t want to crank your ISO up too high.
  • You’re shooting a family portrait outdoors and you don’t want people looking into the sun and squinting. So you put their back to the light, but you need to add some light to brighten up the faces.

The problem is that your little pop up camera flash doesn’t have enough power or options to do a good enough job.

They work okay for fill light, especially outdoors or if you are indoors when daylight is spilling into a room. But for a main light in a darkened room, they are too small and you can’t move them or modify the light. The light is harsh. And they only work well if you are less than 10 feet away from your subjects.

One solution is to use an external flash.

Lumix-360L camera FlashIn this blog post I’m going to be showing you how to use the new Panasonic 360L flash with the Lumix GH3 camera. These tips will work with any flash that can be moved off the camera, and that is articulating (bendable).

Fully automatic settings

You don’t have to worry about setting up your flash. I’m using the flash in it’s automatic settings so that even if you are a total beginner and new to using a flash you’ll be able to get better results right away.

TIP: Set up your flash in automatic TTL mode

Watch the video at the top of the post to see how your photos look in the following scenarios.

  • Indoors with pop up
  • Indoors with Lumix flash straight on
  • Indoors with ceiling bounce
  • Indoors with some window light – here the flash is acting like a fill flash, which means it’s filling in some extra light
  • Outdoors backlit without flash
  • Outdoors backlit with fill flash – here again the flash is acting like a fill flash

Here are those photos again.

None of the photos were adjusted. These are jpgs right out of the camera – except for cropping and adding the annotations. You can see that the exposure and colour varies a bit, so you’ll have to do some testing and you might have a few retakes.

I have to say my favorite flash setup is the ceiling bounce.

Ceiling bounce is much more flattering for portraits. You’ll need a bendy flash like the one I demonstrated for that. The pop-up won’t do it. You can also bounce the flash off the walls too. Try it for side lighting a portrait.

Red Eye

Ceiling also bounce eliminates red eye because the light is not shining directly into a person’s enlarged pupils.

 After the basics

Once you learn the basics of camera flash, you can try some other things like taking the flash off the camera and adding modifiers like bounce cards and umbrellas.

For more info about flash photography check out the books and blogs from:

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