Light and Flash Challenges

My preference in photography is to use available light as much as I possibly can. The natural light of the outdoors and even most of the time indoors just gives the images that natural look that I love.  Having a camera that allows me to adjust to that available light makes this so easy to do.  That said, there are times and places when I need to use the flash. Currently I have the flash that is on the camera, but I’m saving up for an attachable one to give me more diversity plus the ability to bounce the flash off the ceiling. 

Flash photography is challenging. That extra burst of light can wash out an image or make it just too harsh.  Shadows can appear and are just distracting in my view. In my examples below, the one on the left is an okay photo, but to me is a bit too bright and too shadowy. Yes, I could maybe adjust that with post processing, but I want the flash to be less intense.

It’s amazing what you can learn when you read directions.

Flash exposure compensation allows me to dial down the intensity of the flash. I love this feature! In those moments when I need to utilize that extra light I can at least have some control over that brightness. And the results are amazing.  The remaining images of my subject were also taken using the flash, but it was adjust to –2. This gives that wonderful soft light and helps bring out the colors and details of the cat’s fur and eyes. I don’t always have the light adjusted down to –2, but that is what worked in this setting.

IMG_9531 IMG_9711 IMG_9719

Approaching this “problem” was similar to how I handle other technical issues. I looked to the resources I had, in this case the manual that came with the camera and one I recently purchased that goes into more detail. Even with the written directions there is still a lot of trial and error, and learning what I like my images to look like. 

Photographing an active kitten presents so much to learn in how the camera focuses, how to follow him around and be quick, and how to do this without letting him play with the camera strap! The online resources, the blogs by other photographers I read, and that good old owner’s manual have helped me find answers to many issues with digital SLR photography.

10 Replies to “Light and Flash Challenges”

  1. I like how you take the time to learn how to do something particular with the camera. I've been guilty too many times of not doing that at the time and completing it. I've left many projects not even started.
    Your images are so much nicer with the -2 flash compensation.

  2. I agree with the first commenter, you have wonderful patience for learning to use your camera and for waiting to take the best picture. So happy for you learning about your camera and from different resources also.

    Since we finally had some sunshine yesterday I took pictures of all my recent artwork to post last night and when I uploaded them they had spots and shadows on them. Of course I deleted them and will start over again today. Lesson learned…. SLOW DOWN!!

    Can you believe all that rain we got over the weekend? More is on it's way too. Be safe and take care.

  3. Your kitty pix came out great! I had no idea that flash could be adjusted…thanks for the info. I will check it out on my camera.

  4. Great example Deb! I like hearing about how you approached the problem. Reading the manual is good (so many people don't!) but it still takes trial and error and practice to get something right! I think many others will find this a useful post, and a reminder of an approach.

  5. Deb,
    I am a big proponent of reading the manual and finding other book resources that help explain how your camera works. Thanks for the great reminder about flash compensation – you have provided some excellent examples of how effective this can be.

    And I applaud your bravery at taking photos of a sweet kitten – they MOVE! I don't do well with anything that moves. Well done!

  6. Hi…you are so correct, that we can save a lot of tears and frustration if we take the time to read and follow a few simple instructions. Your showing three poses, greatly illustrates your point. Good job. I don't follow kittens around trying to get a good shot, but I do follow Funny Bunnies…two hyper little grandchildren who live around the corner!!! Fun for all. warmly, sharon

  7. I should have thought of this as one of my problems. I hate flash photos….for the same reasons you mention. In fact I don't use flash-so much so I don't think of it anymore. Obviously in some situations is works. The 3rd pic of your active kitty, I like the result you achieved.
    "It’s amazing what you can learn when you read directions. " Making me smile with this line my friend. I'm not one to hate reading manuals, so I should try and expand some skill by doing so.
    I did learn about reducing to -2 flash exposure so I should give that a try. Thanks for the reminder.
    Keeping kitty away from the camera strap…LOL.
    Can't wait to see what you do with the next assignment. You always have such creative twists on them.
    Happy day Deb.

  8. Great post, Deb. This is something I'd really like to master. Your second and third shots are wonderful and very natural looking. Like you, I hate the flat, too-bright look I get with straight flash. Thanks for the inspiration — I'm going to work on this!

  9. The difference in color from the first shot to the last is amazing. Like you, I rarely use flash but your post provides motivation to explore a bit. Good job on this!

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