Sep 01 2010

Photography Lights – Using The 2 Types Of Flashes

Published by at 11:31 am under General

Though flashes are only one kind of several photography lights, they are also one of the most important. Nearly all modern cameras have a flash built right into the body, and most professional photographers use flash at some point in their careers, if not every day. However, flashes are as varied in their construction, functionality, and accessories, as cameras. Here is how you can get the most out of using your flash.

Studio Flash

These are the types of flashes that you see used on fashion shoots. They’re more powerful than traditional in-camera lights, held in place by light stands, and need an external power supply. Studio flashes are some of the most versatile in terms of photography lights; you can move them around an area and adjust their output and duration for total control of the final image.

First of all, make sure that your flash is firing into a light umbrella or some other type of diffusing contraption.  Direct flash is rarely flattering and will overpower your images, so it’s better to pick up a couple of umbrellas and reflectors and use them to “bounce” light onto your subjects.  Studio flashes usually have a “modeling” light that will allow you to see the end result of your setup, so you should be able to plot this bouncing fairly well.

And, if you can, keep your subject away from the backdrop so you’ll avoid sharp shadows in your image. You’ve probably seen this effect in photographs that were shot with a digital camera – because the flash is dead center it casts a person-shaped shadow on the wall. Finally, use more than one light source. The more photography lights that you have, the more flexible your light becomes.

Camera Flash

Many cameras are built right into the camera and work on an automated basis. While this is certainly excellent in terms of convenience and cost, automatic flash is often responsible for terrible photographs.  However, there will be times when the lighting is poor, and you simply can’t use studio lights (for example at weddings).

Just as with a studio flash, you’re going to want to bounce your flash to make it less harsh if at all possible.  Though this may sound weird, think of the many things around you that can work as impromptu light reflectors – tablecloths, walls, ceilings, and menus will all work nicely.  Additionally, never rely on flash as the only light source.  Flash looks best when used to augment the light you already have (like using natural light), so whenever possible try to only use it to fill in the dark spots. And don’t forget that your flash has an effective range so if your subject is too far away your photo will be underexposed.

Flash photography is a complex subject and requires many years of practice to completely master.  If you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, you should consider adding some photography lights to your “photo toolbox.” With the right knowledge and lighting setup you really can make every photograph look like a masterpiece.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply