Photography Tutorials and Articles

Built in Flash, are they any good?

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A quick look at camera Built in Flash 

When and how to use built in flash for good results

Photo Tip Friday June 6, 2014

The flash, found on the front of a compact camera or as a pop-up unit on top of some DSLRs, is used to supply illumination when the ambient lighting conditions drop below a certain level. This level is determined by the camera’s exposure meter and most cameras will automatically activate the flash when shooting conditions need additional light.

You can, however, be more creative and select from a range of flash modes to override the automated settings. These override modes include flash on, flash off, red-eye reduction and slow sync.

In this article I am going to cover how to use the built in flash as a Fill Light.

A very natural looking photo. Thanks to camera's built in flash to fill the shadow!

A very natural looking photo. Thanks to camera’s built in flash to fill the shadow!

Personally I don’t use any kind of flash as my main source of light, especially built in flash. But I do love to use the built in flash as a fill light. Let’s take a look at some examples of using built in flash.

When you set the built in flash to Auto, the camera’s metering system evaluates conditions and if it senses the scene could benefit from additional light it will fire the flash automatically.  On is indicated by the flash (usually a lightening bolt) symbol. You would use this mode when you want to make the flash fire on every occasion. One example is when your subject has a bright light behind them, such as a backlit portrait – the camera will be fooled by the brightness of the surroundings and the subject appears dark. By using the flash you will fill-in the shadow areas making the picture much more pleasing.

No fill light. The built in flash did not fire

No fill light. The built in flash did not fire

 

In this picture I didn’t use the built in flash. Look at the shadows in subject and blown out highlight in background

A little fill light from the built in flash made a huge difference

A little fill light from the built in flash made a huge difference

 

Same subject and same lighting, but this time I used the built in flash to fill the shadows. The flash exposure allowed me to shoot a little higher to compensate for a bright background. As you can see it is a better photo.

Fill flash can also be used to add sparkle to eyes, known as catch lights, and to reduce shadows under the nose and eye sockets when pictures are taken in midday when the sun is bright and high in the sky. Nature photographers even use it to fire some light into the nooks and crannies of flower petals to lift shadows or to add fluorescence to moss or lichen in woodland shots.

Here is another photo where I used the built in flash to adjust the exposure to the background. The built in flash fired enough light to illuminate the subject perfectly.

By adjusting the exposure, the built in flash illuminate the subject to balance the light

By adjusting the exposure, the built in flash illuminate the subject to balance the light

 

We are going to have our next Digital Camera Photography Bootcamp on July 8. Do you want to learn how to be more creative with your camera by understanding the various controls at your fingertips? Register now as the space is limited.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

 

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