Friday, October 23, 2015

                       ON-CAMERA FLASH: LOW TECH SOLUTIONS 

You've heard the country song lyrics, "I've got friends in low places." Well, I've got "friends" in low tech places.

I seldom use flash. I am more of an available light photographer. Sometimes I use diffusers or reflectors to properly light my subjects. Occasionally I do use flash--the flash on my camera. However, that little sucker can be overwhelming. It's got more punch that its size would make you think! What to do?

Yes, you can buy custom-fit diffusers, even for your on-camera flash. I have chosen to create a free and low-tech solution. I simply use my lens cleaning cloth and gently drape it over the flash head--that simple. Sometimes, I even use small pieces of tissue--the kind you get to clean your eye glasses.

 Here are the simple steps I take when using my lens cleaning cloth. I know-- it doesn't seem like the light from a small on-camera flash would "cut" through the cloth, but it does!
Step 1. First, I just drape the cloth over the flash, leaving me room to see through my viewfinder--that's important. :-)
Step 2. Focusing on my subject while in manual focus mode, I adjust my f/stop to cover my subject, but not too much f/stop--I like to blur the backgrounds.

Step 3a. I get my shot.
Step 3b. My camera has a flash exposure compensation feature. If my shot was a little too dark, I overexpose my next shot slightly; if my shot was a little too bright (which seldom happens), I underexpose my next shot slightly. 

Keep in mind that with most images, whether I use flash or not, there is always some slight fine-tuning in photo editing. But, surprisingly, not much. 

Here are three recent examples--butterflies, using my lens cleaning cloth on my on-camera flash. 

Because of my perspective, the background was quite a distance from the butterfly, thus
the black backdrop.   

I like to diversify my shots between clean and simple shots, like the one above, and others with more compositional elements thrown in, to add context.

For this last example, I was sitting on a bench, shooting up at this cooperative model, which allowed me to get a different perspective. The most common butterfly shots are either side views or from the top of the butterly. I was about 3-4 feet away for this one. 

So, go out, explore and experiment with that little flash that sits right on top of your camera. You might surprise yourself.

If you are in the Denver/Boulder area, contact me if you would like a 1-on-1 or small group field lesson.