Two Hosers Photo Show- A Little More About Flash

Adam and I have been talking quite a bit about flash photography on the show lately. The technology is such that shooting basic flash photos on AUTO settings is fairly straightforward and yields pretty reasonable results. But moving into more manual settings, while ultimately rewarding, can be daunting at first. However, if you can grasp one simple concept you will be well on your way to making great looking flash photos.

When shooting with flash you are essentially making 2 exposures. One for the ambient light, and one for the flash.

Allow me to illustrate with a couple of examples. Here you can see a photo I call “Flowers In The Hallway”. It is undoubtedly a terrible picture but it helps me illustrate my point and there’s no sense distracting you with a Rembrandt.

In this first set we establish the ambient light setting (i.e. the existing window light) and then adjust our bounce flash accordingly. First we start with no flash.

Next we add very little flash.

That barely makes a dent so we add more.

Starting to see some results so we add still more.

And a little more.

And finally we max out.

Full power is clearly too much so we would scale it back a little to get the effect we wanted. Notice in each picture that even though the flash was getting brighter we left the ambient light (the window) consistent? Now let’s try the opposite effect. We’ll leave the flash output consistent and adjust the window light.

In the first shot we overexpose the window to blow it out a little.

Next we reduce the exposure to include less ambient light.

And even darker.

And still darker.

Like our first example, notice how the flash exposure remains consistent while we alter the ambient exposure.

Tune in next week to hear Adam and I explain how to build a flash photograph and balance the two exposures.