Skip to content

How to use the flash

Rate this post

How to use the flash: The flash it is a fundamental tool in the field of photography. Technically, it is a flash of light obtained with an electronic device, called photographic flasher or more simply flash, which accumulates energy in a capacitor and, at the moment of shooting, releases it, so as to start a flash which then illuminates the scene to be captured. Professional photographers use the flash not only as a mere lighting tool, but also as an aid for making artistic shots.

How do you say? Lately you are also passionate about photography and, therefore, would you like to learn how to better master the flash? Yup? Then know that you’ve come to the right place at the right time! In the next paragraphs, in fact, I will have the opportunity to explain you in detail how to use the flash talking mainly about cameras, but also providing useful instructions related to smartphones.

So, are you ready to start? Yup? Great! Make yourself comfortable, take all the time you need to focus on reading the next paragraphs and, more importantly, try to implement the “tips” that I will give you. There is nothing left for me to do, except to wish you a good read and, above all, make a big good luck for your business as a photographer!

How to use the camera flash

We begin this examination by seeing how to use the camera flash. Whether you want to use an external flash or the one incorporated on the camera in your possession, in the next lines you will find useful ideas on the possible uses of this very useful accessory.

How to use the external flash

External flash

Use the external flash, instead of the one built into the camera (which I’ll tell you about further on), has several advantages. The external flash, in fact, can be oriented in various directions, has settings that you can customize to your liking and can produce a more powerful and intense light than that integrated in the camera.

All these features make the external flash an extremely versatile and useful tool not only to correctly illuminate the scene, but also to create very suggestive plays of light and shadows which, for obvious reasons, cannot be replicated with the flashes built into the machines. photographic.

Before I show you some possible uses of the external flash, I want to tell you that this can be installed on the camera (usually on Reflex is present the slide insertion mechanism) or can be used remotely, without being installed on the machine body.

One of the best ways to use the external flash is by directing its head in a different direction from that in which the subject to be captured is located, so as to make bounce the light on a surface (e.g. a side wall or ceiling) instead of directly on the subject. In this way, the subject is reached by the flash of light with less “violence”, which makes the shadows “softer” and less sharp, avoiding highlighting the defects of the subject portrayed in the photo.

To succeed in this aim, enough point the flash head in the desired direction and, as soon as you are ready to do it, take the photo. Keep in mind that the farther away the surface is directly hit by the flash, the more diffuse the light which in turn hits the subjects and therefore the softer the shadows in the shot you get.

External flashes can usually be used even without being physically connected to the camera. These models typically integrate a mode, called Slave, which allows you to activate them through another beam of light (which could be the one emanated by the flash integrated in the camera), which makes them particularly versatile, since they can be positioned at the point of the scene that allows you to obtain exactly the desired effect .

How to use the built-in flash

Built-in flash

Many professional photographers advise againstuse of the built-in flash in the camera, or pop-up flash, and for various reasons: this type of flash represents a very small light source, thus not allowing to adequately illuminate the scene. It is also not very powerful, its direction is in axis with the lens (and by illuminating the subject from the front, it “flattens” it) and being powered by the camera battery, its intense use risks depleting the charge rather quickly.

However, let me explain how to turn the flash on and off on the camera and how to try using it in the best way. Usually when the automatic mode is set on the camera (TO), the flash is on by default and cannot be turned off. By setting the manual mode (M)instead, you can choose to activate or deactivate the integrated flash from time to time by pressing the button with the icon lighting bolt located on the machine body.

As for the effective deactivation of the flash, on many cameras there is a setting (e.g. Flash off on Canon SLR cameras), to be used when you do not want to use the flash or when you are in environments where its use is prohibited.

If you decide to use the integrated flash, despite its potential disadvantages, you can try to deflect the light emitted by the latter by placing one hand mirror at the same: by directing the mirror towards the ceiling or towards a nearby wall, you will avoid “shooting” the light directly on the subject.

Another trick you can take is to place a white sheet of paper, so as to make the light beam a little more diffused: which will slightly attenuate the presence of too sharp shadows on the portrait subject.

How to use the flash outdoors

Outdoor flash

Use the flash outdoors, therefore in environments that are probably already naturally lit, it can be very useful. The flash, in fact, not only serves to illuminate dark or poorly lit places, as someone might mistakenly think, but it can also be used in bright contexts to lighten shadows and / or reduce the contrast of full sun.

This type of flash usage is referred to fill flash or fill flash and, to better understand its usefulness, I will give you a practical example: let’s say you find yourself taking pictures on a particularly sunny day. In these light conditions, the shadows on the faces of the subjects to be immortalized may be too marked, making it impossible to distinguish the features of the face. To correct this, you can manually adjust the exposure and try to remove some shadows but, in this way, you run the risk of overexposing the background, getting a shot with the subject correctly exposed, but the background is far too light , if not completely white.

By adopting the flash fill technique, however, it is possible to illuminate the shady areas of the subject, obtaining a good balance between the brightness of the background and also of the subject itself. For best results, of course, you have to remember that the shutter speed cannot be set to values ​​that are higher than the flash sync speed: the aperture must be reduced, so as to be able to compensate for the greater brightness caused by the use of the flash.

How to use the flash in the evening

Flash in the evening

If you wish use the flash in the evening, there are some things you should definitely consider. First of all, I want to tell you that usually the flash can cover a distance ranging from 3 to 10 meters. This means that taking pictures with the flash to illuminate a distant subject can be counterproductive.

By activating the flash, in fact, the scene is illuminated by the light emitted by the latter and this can “deceive” the camera, making them believe that it finds us in conditions of strong lighting. As a result, the shutter speed will be automatically reduced by the camera, which will generate an underexposed shot, not to mention dark.

How can you avoid such a thing? Simply put, not using the flash and exposing the photo manually: to do this, you can take some very simple tricks, such as increase shutter speed, open the diaphragm and increase the ISO value (but without exaggerating, otherwise the photo obtained will be very “noisy”). If you decide to increase the shutter speed, I recommend use a tripod, so as to avoid running the risk of running into photos that have blur or micro-blur.

If, however, you want use the flash in the evening to illuminate a subject that is nearby, I advise you to resort touse of an external flash, rather than using the one built into the camera. As I have already explained to you a few lines further on, in fact, the external flash allows you to direct its head towards a different direction from that in which the subject to be immortalized is located, which allows you to bounce the light on a surface (e.g. a side wall), rather than directly on the subject, making the shot more interesting and avoiding common defects, such as that of thered eye effect.

If you don’t have an external flash available and / or want anyway use the integrated one on your camera to illuminate nearby subjects, at least try to avoid “shooting” the light directly into the eyes of the subjects you want to capture, perhaps inviting them not to look directly into the lens, so as to avoid the red-eye effect (which however it could be corrected in the post-production phase, as I explained to you in a other guide).

How to use the flash in manual

Manual flash

As I explained to you in the introduction of the article, the flash accumulates, during charging, a certain amount of energy in a capacitor and, at the moment of shooting, releases it instantly to start the flash that must illuminate the scene. The “secret” to making the best use of the flash, therefore, is in measuring the quantity of light released by the latter.

If you have an external flash available, it would therefore be advisable use it in manual mode, instead of the automatic one, to better adjust its intensity. Clearly, it is advisable to do this in all those situations where you have the opportunity to calmly study the photos to be taken: if you need to take the moment, it is better to use the flash in automatic mode (or TTL), so as to be sure of getting a correct shot by simply setting the shooting parameters of the camera. In automatic mode, in fact, the flash calculates all the parameters to be set automatically based on the information it manages to collect from the lens.

To use the flash in manual mode, you must call up the mode in question via the flash: in general, to do this, just select the letter M the flash and enter the power setting menu. Since the operations to be performed may vary from device to device, I recommend you read the user manual to know in detail how to proceed.

When taking the photo in manual mode with the flash, the first thing you need to consider is the power of lightning, which must necessarily vary according to the result to be obtained. Usually, setting the flash in manual mode, you have values ​​ranging from 1/1 to 1/128: the value 1/1 indicates the maximum power value; the value 1/128, on the other hand, indicates the lower power value.

Another value that can be changed on many external flashes is theamplitude of the parabolaor the width of the light beam emitted by the flash which usually varies between 24mm and 128mm: the 24mm value indicates a very wide beam of light, while the 128mm value indicates a very wide beam of light.

As for the values ​​to be set on the camera, I remind you of some concepts that you would do well to always keep in mind. Keeping the flash output, the sensitivity of the ISO value and the shutter speed unchanged, if you choose to close the diaphragm the photo will be underexposed, while with the diaphragm fully open it will be overexposed. This means that the flash power is directly proportional to the aperture and, therefore, it increases as the diaphragm opening increases.

By leaving unchanged the power of the flash, the ISO value and the aperture, on the other hand, the subject will always be correctly illuminated, while the presence of ambient light will change, as it is controlled by the shutter speed.

In light of the above, when manually adjusting the shooting parameters, always remember that by varying the aperture of the diaphragm, you will act on the quantity of light that hits the subject to be captured; however, by varying the shutter speed, you will act on the ambient light.

How to use the flash in portraits

Photographic portrait

As for theuse of flash in portraits, I suggest you follow the tips and tricks that I have already given you in the previous chapters, so as to avoid getting underexposed or overexposed photos and minimize the possibility of running into common errors, such as the one related to the red-eye effect .

To these tips, I add that when using the flash in group photos, you must take care to do place all subjects on the same plane. For what reason? If the subjects are placed on different floors, those that are closest to the objective will be correctly illuminated and exposed: those that are a little further away, however, will be underexposed and, therefore, the shot will be practically unusable.

How to use the phone flash

Take photos mainly with the phone and you would therefore like to know how to activate the flash integrated on the latter? Below you will find out how to do it both Android that on iPhone.

How to use flash on Android

Android flash

If you have a device available Android, you should be able to manage the settings relating to the use of the flash directly from the app Camera. To proceed, therefore, start the latter on your smartphone, tap on the icon lighting bolt placed at the top (on some devices you must first tap on the symbol of thegear, to expand the menu containing the icon in question).

At this point, you just have to pay attention to the symbol that appears on the icon of lighting bolt: if there is no symbol, it means that the flash is active; if the symbol is present (TO), means that the automatic flash is active and the operating system will decide whether or not to activate the flash, while the symbol of prohibition indicates that the flash is turned off.

Now, after activating the flash, you just have to press on shutter button placed at the bottom in the center to take the photo and illuminate it through the emission of the flash of light generated by the flash.

How to use flash on iPhone

IPhone flash

You have a iPhone and would you like to know how to activate the flash on the latter? Again, you can do it very simply. First start the app Camera, tap on the symbol lighting bolt located at the top left and, in the menu that opens, select one of the available options: Automatic, if you want to set the automatic flash and let the operating system decide when to activate it; Yup, if you want to keep it active or No, if you want to disable it.

Then press on the shutter button placed at the bottom center of the screen, so you can take the picture and illuminate it thanks to the built-in flash on your “melafonino”, and you’re done.