On-Camera Flash: Reasons to Move Beyond Natural Light and Practical Steps to Mastery



Do you love photography but find yourself shying away from flash? You are not alone.


Photographer Michelle Turner started out like a lot of photographers: only shooting in natural light. But, she quickly realized that flash can add a lot to photos and eventually became an expert in using flash to enhance images where needed.


As a wedding photographer and someone who photographs her own children frequently the top reasons she likes to use flash are:


*Inclement weather becomes fun! Snowy and rainy days become fun when you use flash!

*You can stop motion.

*You can balance fireworks and sparklers with light on your subjects.

*You can take long exposures and capture the stars and your kids in the same frame.

*You can light a room.

*You can fix ugly light.

Although Michelle uses off-camera flash, she emphasizes that flash can be used more simply on-camera. Some basic steps photographers can take to learn how to use their flash on-camera are:


*Start using your flash on TTL, or through the lens, which allows the flash to determine the strength of flash needed.

*Practice swiveling your flash to observe the differences in image quality based on the direction of the flash.

*Experiment with bouncing your flash off of different surfaces, noticing the differences in color and quality of light.

*Try different flash modifiers -- including some you can make yourself.

*Pay attention to ambient light and how flash can be used to balance a scene to properly expose the entire scene.

*Learn how to preserve ambient light with flash to enhance an image.

*Have fun with freezing motion and other fun tricks that can be done with flash.

*Once you are comfortable with TTL experiment with using flash on manual for more control when needed.


To learn more about Michelle's approach to flash check out her class Flash and Continuous Light for the Modern Photographer at Click Photo School.



It's understandable that many natural light photographers are intimidated by using flash, but learning even just the basics can open up new creative possibilities. Focus on the main reasons you want to learn flash and break the process of learning down so that it doesn't seem overwhelming. With a slow-and-steady approach and some practice you can start using a simple on-camera flash to get more interesting photos and photos that just aren't possible using natural light alone.


Learning flash does not mean giving up your love of natural light photography - it only means opening up more creative choices so don't be afraid to give it a try.