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Old Dec 26, 2008, 7:11 PM   #1
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Taking some shots in the house I often get shadows even when using an add on flash. I've attached an example photo. Apart from moving her nearer the window what else could I do ? thanks in advance
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Old Dec 26, 2008, 7:55 PM   #2
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Even using an external flash, if it's mounted on the hot shoe you still have some of the problems as with using a built-in -- as you're seeing.

One thing you can do is get a flash bracket that lets you position the flash to one side of the camera. A flash mounted to the right would have helped this shot somewhat in throwing the shadow behind the subjects head. Some people even hand-hold their flash (connected with a cable to the camera) so that they can get a really good extension.

Of even more help would be a diffusion head. This cuts down on the range of the flash but helps spread out the light so it's less harsh. A diffusion head and a right-mounted flash would have made quite a difference.

If your flash head can swivel up and down, bouncing the light off of the ceiling will also make the light more even and lighten shadows. There are accessories that can be mounted on fixed-head flashes that makes the light more directional so that you can still do bounce lighting.

The simplest thing would be to shoot a subject that isn't so close to a wall, but a lot of the time that degree of control isn't practical.

Of the above ideas, I might start out with a flash diffuser -- there are many different kinds on the market. In fact, you can even make your own from plastic bottles and/or handkerchiefs. There are instructions on numerous sites just waiting to be googled. Same thing for the bounce-lighting accessories; you can make your own to try it out.

If that doesn't quite do it for you, add some sort of off-camera option.

The use of a reflector located outside the frame could add a bit of fill-light to lighten shadows, but that could be even more inconvenient than only shooting subjects away from walls or other objects near enough to pick up a shadow.

Some combination of the above should work pretty well for you!

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Old Dec 26, 2008, 8:29 PM   #3
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Another option that will help is boosting ISO so that the flash is having to do less work, so mix that in with the others mentioned.
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Old Dec 26, 2008, 9:41 PM   #4
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You made that shot with the camera in portrait orientation with the flash to the left so the shadow was thrown to the right of the subject. As long as the flash is in the hotshoe on the top of the camera, shoot landscape orientation so the shadow is thrown down and behind the subject. The bracket and hand holding techniques mentioned by Grant will allow you to have the flash above the camera while it is in portrait orientation.

Bouncing and diffusing will soften the shadow but not get rid of it completely.

A dark background will make the shadow less noticeable, though it will also make dark hair and other dark parts of the subject stand out less as well.
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Old Dec 26, 2008, 10:09 PM   #5
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Try this:

Even if you don't have anything else but your "pop-up", set your ISO to 400 or higher. Use an aperture of around 5.6 and a shutter speed of less than 1/30(25, 20 or the slowest you can hand hold).

What you're going for here is "dragging" your shutter to let more of the ambient light into the shot. Don't worry about motion blur or if you're hands are too shaky for the shot--since you're using a relatively "wide" aperture, you're pop-up flash will fire a very short burst which would be enough to freeze any minor movement(if you can, set the flash to "Rear" or "2nd curtain" as added insurance.)

You'll see a world of difference!
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 7:29 AM   #6
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BillDrew wrote:
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You made that shot with the camera in portrait orientation with the flash to the left so the shadow was thrown to the right of the subject.*
thank you for this observation, this never occurred to me before! I went through my photos and can clearly see a re -occurring problem with portrait shots
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Old Dec 27, 2008, 7:34 AM   #7
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thanks for your help Grant, very informative

I'll have a look around for a diffuser and have a play with angling the flash
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