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Harsh, unflattering lighting can ruin a photo—and with flash, it's easy to get harsh, unflattering lighting. But flash is a necessary part of a photographer's toolset—after all, the world doesn't always provide you with the best natural light.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult to get great results from flash, and in this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long details the concepts and techniques behind effective lighting with flash. Ben starts with fundamentals that build on exposure principles taught in other installments of Foundations of Photography—simple techniques that improve the results from a camera's built-in flash. He then focuses on fill flash techniques and on using flash as a key light. The course also explores topics ranging from bouncing and syncing flash to shooting with one or more off-camera flash units.
A lot of people who are new to flash shooting have the mistaken belief that your flash is what you use when you're shooting in low light. And while it's true that a flash can be used carefully to improve low light shots you'll probably find that you use your flash as much, or maybe even more, in bright light than you do in low light. That's because very often the lighting problems in your image aren't about an overall lack of light, but simply about a lack of light in certain places in your scene. Here's a simple example.
There's plenty of light in this scene. The problem with the picture is that there's not enough light under the brim of the hat. That's leaving our subject's face in shadow. With a fill flash, I get this. Or consider this shot of someone standing in front of a bright background. If you've watched my exposure course, or my HDR course then you know that your eye has a much wider dynamic range than your camera does. Consequently, when you're standing at this location you can actually see with your eye detail in both the person's face and the bright background behind them. Your camera though can't capture that much dynamic range.
Instead it exposes to preserve the bright details in the background. But at the expense of the foreground, which ends up dark and under exposed. With fill flash, I get light in to those dark areas, which evens out the exposure and reveals the detail that didn't appear in the normal exposure. So why do we call this fill flash instead of just flash? As discussed in the last chapter, fill flash as we're defining it, is flash that serves to fill in shadowy ares in your image. While keeping your background properly exposed. When it's used well, no one who looks at your image will ever assume that a flash was used.
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