Stop Using the Camera Flash

I am referring <em>specifically</em> to the one on your camera. Stop using the camera flash it is evil! Convinced? No?Flashing should be illegal

I am not talking about studio lighting, I make extensive use of it, and it is a great tool for photographers, but the vast majority of people will not invest in a studio system.

I am referring specifically to the one on your camera. Stop using you camera flash it is evil!

Convinced? No?

When I thought of writing this post I spent a lot of time combing through my files looking for a picture where I had used my on-camera flash. I found one, and since I had used it before I was hesitant to use it again. But I really couldn’t find any other without spending hours looking, this tells you how little I use the flash on my camera.

I read something a photographer once wrote on his website. He hates on-camera flash so much that he crazy-glued shut the one on his camera. I am not entirely sure he wasn’t exaggerating, and I would never do something like that to my camera, but I share the sentiment.

I am referring <em>specifically</em> to the one on your camera. Stop using the camera flash it is evil! Convinced? No?

Ok, I guess you need more proof. The flash in your camera can be used for good,:  the picture above was taken in broad daylight, but the flash gave the look of “cornered person” I was going for.

In some other cases, if you learn how to use it correctly (assuming your camera has a setting to control the intensity and timing of your flash), it makes some outdoor photography a whole lot better. If you shoot somebody against a bright background (like the sunset), and you want your subjects to be exposed correctly, your on-camera flash might be your only choice.

If it is an absolutely must-have, spur-of-the-moment shot, then yes, by all means fire up that flash. But if you are shooting for your food, craft or design blog, or perhaps your Etsy store, please, I beg you, don’t use it.

I am referring <em>specifically</em> to the one on your camera. Stop using the camera flash it is evil! Convinced? No?

Take these pictures for example. If you made, say, little hand-painted angels, which picture do you think will entice readers to buy them, or visit your blog again? Which one is more likely to be featured in another blog or site?

These two are basically the same picture (different shutter speeds, same aperture), yet they could hardly be any more different. Harsh shadows, flat lighting and distorted colors vs soft backlighting and open shadows.

I am referring <em>specifically</em> to the one on your camera. Stop using the camera flash it is evil! Convinced? No?

Look at the windows in this shot, the picture below looks a bit ominous with the dark windows, the cold cast doesn’t make it inviting either.  It looks cold and clinical.

I am referring <em>specifically</em> to the one on your camera. Stop using the camera flash it is evil! Convinced? No?

Can you see the difference?

Lighting is perhaps the most important thing when it comes to good photography, it is also the most complicated subject. Small libraries can be filled with the amount of published work on lighting in photography.  This is not the post where I talk about it, this is just to convince that if you want to improve your photography skills you must absolutely learn more about light, and get past the flash, there’s no two ways about it. Light makes the picture.

Ok, so if you can’t use the flash on your camera, then what? I will show you some simple techniques to squeeze every pixel out of your camera, but this will take several other posts. Check next week for the first one.

Aunt Clara

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