These days, DSLRs are so good in low light, that many people decide they will never use flash. The truth is, though, there are times when a flash will help. When it's too dark inside or when shooting outdoors in bright, harsh sunlight where there is no open shade, for example.
Those pop-up flashes on DSLRs are pretty bad (unless you like washed out faces and harsh shadows!) But an external flash changed my photography forever.
An external flash spreads more light, and you can use it to bounce the light, eliminating all of the nasty, direct flash problems. My flash swivels and tilts in different directions, so that I can bounce it to get the best light available. (In Nikon lingo, the external flashes are called Speedlights, and in Canon, they are Speedlites.)
How to use Bounce Flash
The flash simply slides into the hot shoe on the top of the camera. (Using it off-camera is another way to get great light, but I haven't used mine that way yet.)
To bounce the flash, I usually point it at the ceiling behind me, at a side wall, or on the ceiling in front of me, and the flash spreads nice light onto my subject. (It's best if the wall is white, as colored walls will give odd color casts. That's why ceilings work well. I've also bounced off a piece of white foam board, poster board, or someone's white shirt! ) By adjusting the angle of the flash, I can control where the light will fall. It's really a simple process. I use the auto (TTL) setting on the flash. If you buy the same brand of flash as your camera, the camera and flash will coordinate to determine how much light is needed. See, it's that simple!
The photo, above, of my daughter and Sunny was taken a few years ago, in our kitchen. I had not taken a flash photography class yet. I simply bounced the external flash up to the ceiling. Had I used the pop-up flash on the camera, there would have been a harsh shadow behind them. The shadows from direct flash are worse with vertical photos than horizontal ones.
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Want to Learn More?
I've taken several photography classes at Craftsy online. They are wonderful and not expensive. I learned a lot from their Portraits with an On-Camera Speedlight class. I continue to watch the videos over and over. I also highly recommend ClickinMoms. I have learned so much there--composition, lighting, equipment tips, Lightroom--it's all there. ClickinMoms has your choice of monthly, yearly, or lifetime membership fees.
I now shoot with DSLRs that are much better in low light than my first one. (I have a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon D5100. The newer versions of these are the the Nikon D7100 and the Nikon D5300. I love my cameras! There are still many times when I need my flash, so I'm glad to know how to use it well! I'll always be learning new things about flash and new ways to use it.
Do you have tips for bouncing the flash?
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