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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Effective Flash

Five ways to improve your flash photography

effective flashAdd Tension
One of the best ways to improve your flash photography and add tension to an image is using off-camera flash. Adding tension to your photograph makes it more interesting and eye-catching to the viewer. While using flash on-camera is effective for many situations, triggering your flash off-camera opens up a lot of new possibilities.
Triggering your flash off-camera can be done by using an inexpensive dedicated flash cord that connects the flash to the camera hot-shoe. Many flash systems also use wireless technology, allowing you to trigger and control output of the flash without cables.

I use classic portrait lighting with off-camera flash. I'll set my camera exposure to -1 stop for the ambient light, then hold my flash at a 45-degree angle to my subject and, using TTL flash mode, take the shot. This results in an underexposed background with my subject being properly exposed by the flash. The angled light creates a dramatic look, whether on people or other subjects. If you have more than one flash, you can add a second light for rim lighting on your subject.

effective flashCreate Mood
Digital photography has opened many new controls to the photographer, and one of my favorites is white balance. Frame by frame, we can choose the white balance for our images.

When shooting only natural light, I usually set my white balance to cloudy to add a warming-filter effect to my landscape images. But when I use flash, I turn my white balance to the flash or daylight setting so the actual light from the flash is neutral. Sometimes, I want a moody appearance to my images, however, and changing white balance while using flash does the job.

I start by setting my white balance to incandescent. This setting gives daylight a blue tone. Next, I tape an orange gel over my flash to counter the blue tone created by the incandescent white balance. The result is that my flashed subject has a neutral color balance while everything else is blue. To further enhance this effect, I underexpose the ambient exposure by one stop. Wow, what an effect!

The next time you find yourself wondering how to improve a photo, just remember the flash in your camera bag. Adding a little pop to your images may do the trick.

To see more of Tom Bol's photography, visit www.tombolphoto.com.



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