On Camera Flash Stinks – Learn to use off camera
Getting the best from your camera flash
One of the first things that you have to learn when you are getting into photography is that using the flash on camera is generally not a good thing to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean that using a flash is bad, but you do have to know how to use strobe lighting properly. Quite often when you take a photo using the on camera flash you will find that the subject is completely blown out and will have horrible highlights and shadows that generally make your photos look terrible. You can do some things to improve the situation by using tricks to soften the light from the flash on your camera. You can use little tools which will deflect the light off walls and ceilings in the room which will also soften it. A better route to take would be to use off-camera flashes that are controlled by wireless. The way to do this is to get the wireless sender that you put onto the hot shoe on your camera (My Sony NEX 6 has a hot shoe)and then have receivers which you connect to the flashes which you place in better positions for lighting your subject. To a certain extent this is much like the way that you go for three point lighting when you are shooting video. You will have a key light which is the main light to light your subject on one side and then on the other side you will have a fill light. You can do it with just the two lights but you could also put a light behind your subject which helps your subject to stand out from the background. There you have your three-point lighting.
Following the advice of the Strobist
There is a photographer called David Hobby who has a website called Strobist and here he has loads of information about how to use these off camera flashes or strobe lights. There is a Strobist 101 lighting course which will give you all of the basics that you need to learn how to use your flash lighting. I bought two of the Nikon SB25 flash units and I also got receivers plus a wireless controller. You can get some really interesting effects using even these small battery-powered devices. You do need to spend some time learning how to use these devices and getting the settings just right for your photos.
Shooting in the direction of the sun
One general piece of advice when you are taking photographs is to have the sun behind you when you are taking the shot this is so that you have a better lighting for your subject who is facing into the sun. Although sometimes all you get is a person who is squinting which doesn’t necessarily look so good and you won’t fix that in post processing. What you can do with off-camera strobe lights is to have the sun behind your subject and then use the flashes to light the subject. I have found that these sorts of photos will give some stunning effects in terms of how the subject looks in relation to the lighting of the background.
There will be more about this subject in the Geeky Photographer book when it is published.