MAKE THE MOST OF IN­TER­NAL FLASH

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

While not the first choice for pho­tog­ra­phers re­quir­ing ad­vanced light­ing ef­fects, built-in flash can be a valu­able and ver­sa­tile as­set

Built-in flash has some­what of a bad rep­u­ta­tion amongst se­ri­ous pho­tog­ra­phers, who of­ten do not feel it is flex­i­ble enough for reg­u­lar pro­fes­sional use. It is true that ex­ter­nal flash­guns pro­vide light­ing that is eas­ier to work with and that in­ter­nal units have their lim­i­ta­tions. The light from th­ese flashes is known for be­ing harsher, due mainly to their small size, which re­sults in a lim­ited spread of light. The soft­ness of flash light is di­rectly re­lated to the size of the source, re­sult­ing in built-in flash pro­duc­ing a harder light ‘hotspot’. Fur­ther­more, the ma­jor­ity of in­te­gral units can­not be an­gled in any way, in­stead di­rect­ing the light straight at the sub­ject. There­fore, un­like with speed­lights, which can be an­gled to bounce flash off a wall or ceil­ing, it is easy to cre­ate an un­flat­ter­ing bleached look to skin, with patchy blown high­lights. In ad­di­tion, it is dif­fi­cult to pro­duce gen­uinely di­rec­tional light­ing, for which of­f­cam­era flash can be used to en­hance tex­ture or struc­ture in the sub­ject. There is also the mat­ter of lim­ited con­trol – speed­lights usu­ally pro­vide full cus­tomi­sa­tion of the flash power and out­put, to eas­ily blend flash light with the am­bi­ent light in the scene. Since this is not pos­si­ble with in­te­gral units, it can be dif­fi­cult to avoid flash falloff.

How­ever, th­ese weak­nesses aside, there are ben­e­fits to be found with your DSLR’s in­ter­nal flash. Firstly, in­ter­nal flashes are al­ways present and are pow­ered by the main cam­era bat­tery, mean­ing it is im­pos­si­ble to leave for a shoot with­out a flash or for the bat­ter­ies to run out of power. Be­yond this, pro­fes­sional speed­lights are large and heavy, so there are weight-sav­ing ad­van­tages when trav­el­ling.

It is pos­si­ble to ad­just flash out­put to some de­gree and there are op­tions for dif­fus­ing light from your flash, how­ever the great­est method of ex­pand­ing its use­ful­ness is to use it as a wire­less trig­ger for same-brand ex­ter­nal de­vices. Ei­ther way, it is ad­van­ta­geous to know how to make the flash on your cam­era truly use­ful.

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