Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trade Tricks: Got A Light?

Control contrast and color with your built-in flash

TT: Got A Light

Although the best light of the day is often that of early morning or late afternoon, the duration of such light is very short. More often than not, you're shooting the majority of your images during midday when the light is harsh and contrasty. This is easily evident in portraits where strong shadows under hat brims appear. One of the best tools for making the most of midday lighting may already be in your camera: the built-in or auxiliary flash.

The Magic Of Fill-Flash
If you're only using flash when there isn't enough light, you're missing out on many opportunities to create better images. That's because the camera's flash minimizes contrast and boosts color when used under unfavorable lighting conditions. By putting it in the fill-flash or anytime flash mode, the flash fires even during a bright, sunny day. Exposure is handled automatically, and since the sun is a much stronger light source than your flash, the light from your camera will serve as fill rather than overpower your subject.

To engage this mode, depress your flash mode button until a single crooked arrow appears on your LCD. In this mode, the flash will fire each time you depress the shutter release button, assuming you've allowed sufficient time for the flash to recycle. Wait for the flash indicator to confirm that the flash has recharged and take your next picture. Also, avoid using the red-eye reduction mode, as this function has no impact under such bright conditions.

Controlling Contrast
The first step in controlling contrast is to be aware that it exists. If your subject is illuminated by strong directional light, the image will show strong contrast. Shoot a portrait at noon, and the overhead sun will produce deep shadows in the eye sockets that will hide any color and details in the eyes. If a person wears a brimmed hat, the shadow will significantly reduce detail on the subject's entire face.



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