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Old Sep 16, 2010, 9:18 PM   #11
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Using a diffuser on your built-in flash will help a lot, also. There are several commercially available units, as well as some that can be home-made. They serve to soften the harsh effect of flash, but at the cost of limiting the range.

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Old Sep 16, 2010, 9:31 PM   #12
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I dislike flash - it is hard to figure out and often produces ugly results - but then so do many other techniques.
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Yes. To maximize results you need an external flash. But, in many cases the built in is still better than available light. It's a matter of the lesser of two evils.
John's comments are spot on. Esp about the built in flash. Using that isn't so much a choice of the lesser of two evils, but an act of pure desperation.

Sometimes things do get desperate.
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Old Sep 17, 2010, 2:57 AM   #13
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Photography is painting with light.

If the light is poor and you cannot change location, well then artificial lighting is your only choice.

The problem is that it's very easy to make horrible looking photos with flash. The learning curve for using artificial lighting properly is quite steep.

Last year I did a course which specialised in studio lighting. It teaches you to think about lighting in a different way. It teaches you to look at a scene and think first about how you would like to light it to get the picture you are looking for. Once you have got that figured out then sometimes you realise you don't actually need flash; you can move the subject, or use a reflector, or indeed use a room lamp, or one or multiple flashes.

The point is that if you don't know how to use flash, then your options are very limited.

I don't use flash much at all, but I'd rather do it from choice than ignorance, and when flash is needed I don't hesitate.
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Old Sep 17, 2010, 3:24 AM   #14
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Hiya! I am a little late in this discussion, but if I may put my two cents in. Obviously, there times and places that one will not want or can use a flash. That said, there are endless opportunities for using a flash, even outdoors. Just this summer, I have read articles of professional photographers who have made wise use of the flash outdoors. Light is everything in photography, so why not learn / experiement how to use it properly, yes, even a flash. On my camera, I can determine how much light my flash will throw out or not, the opportunities about. It is also important to soften the light from a flash so that it is diffused properly... main thing is, try, experiement, but use the flash often... not always, of course, but look for possiblitilities and experiement. And, even though you have your exif data recorded in a photo, it is not a bad idea when you have a nice subject to use a pad of paper and pencil and write down what you are doing, info about the subject, lighting or the lack therein...

Hope this helps.

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Old Sep 17, 2010, 7:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
Photography is painting with light.

If the light is poor and you cannot change location, well then artificial lighting is your only choice.

The problem is that it's very easy to make horrible looking photos with flash. The learning curve for using artificial lighting properly is quite steep.

Last year I did a course which specialised in studio lighting. It teaches you to think about lighting in a different way. It teaches you to look at a scene and think first about how you would like to light it to get the picture you are looking for. Once you have got that figured out then sometimes you realise you don't actually need flash; you can move the subject, or use a reflector, or indeed use a room lamp, or one or multiple flashes.

The point is that if you don't know how to use flash, then your options are very limited.

I don't use flash much at all, but I'd rather do it from choice than ignorance, and when flash is needed I don't hesitate.
+1, great analogy.

There is nothing wrong with using a flash.
As mentioned you cant always control what light you are going to get.
As John also said its about technique and the flash you use. I am a big opponent to using on camera flash as you dont have much control over it and end up with one portion of your photo being flooded with others falling off into the abyss, their faces get washed and eys get red. I use an external flash both on and off camera. For the most part what you want to avoid is beaming a flash right at the subject at close distances. When buying an external falsh make sure you get one that you can control the intensity and just as importantly the angle. If indoors its preferential to bounce the light, this is simple geometry, much like using a bank shot playing pool. There are so many other things you can do by using gobos (an oject placed between your light source and your subject) with your flash. Then there are multile flash scenarios where you use one flash to paint the background and another to paint the subject. Then we get into studio strobes. Oh this subject can go on forever! The possibilites are almost endless and just when you thought you went through all 10 million different ways you find another. Its not whether or not to use one, its using it correctly and becoming a master of light. A good flash is an important part of any serious photographers kit!
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 1:59 PM   #16
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I have been taking more pictures with the flash and they look a lot better than without. I guess I just thought high ISO would work miracles and take pictures in very low light, but maybe my idea of low light is different than what it should be. The room is poorly lit and its at night, and not even very light to the eye, and without the flash everything was a slow shutter speed and the lighting didnt look right, looked dingy. So I guess the flash is right in these cases.
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 7:24 PM   #17
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What is nice about an external flash, when you learn how to use it, is that it is, generally speaking, a very dependable source of lighting that you can always depend upon.

Here is an example of fill flash used with a P+S camera to brighten the subject and to improve detail. Just click on the link below to display the photo:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Ca...3_AmHcE-X3.jpg

Here is an example of a Slave Flash in operation. This photo was taken at a distance of 30 feet, using the additional light provided by the Slave Flash:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Sl...0_RCQqv-X3.jpg

And here is an example of "Bounced Flash." The ligh from the external flash was bounced off the ceiling. Note that there is no harshness to the lighting. The lighting is soft and diffussed.

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Sl...9_et75Z-X3.jpg

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Old Sep 29, 2010, 9:31 AM   #18
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Dont be frightened of flash it is a tool to be used yes you can up iso but then you can end up with noise. I prefer to get the flash out external and use that either bounce or diffuser or off camera.
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 8:25 PM   #19
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Here is another example of a bounced flash, first one I could dig up. Canon 580ex II angled 60 degrees with catch light panel extended. You not only get a well exposed image but the catch light in the eyes gives them depth and orientation instead of being flat. My Daughter after a Sky Blue game with a Puma painted in her hair. Ambient light with recessed fixtures in the Kitchen would have been horrible. Just remember its best practice to keep the catch light at the 11 or 1 oclock position in the eyes. You dont want straight on or under or far left or right.
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