Fun with Flash Photography

90% of the time I hate it when people use flash. I hate it. It’s horrible, blinding, and really, you are not doing yourself any favors.
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Then you get into things like fill flash and a million other things that I don’t understand, and suddenly flash is lookin’ pretty good. Because I don’t know what I’m doing, I keep it simple.
No flash. Natural light in front of a window. This looks fine, and is representative of 99.9% of the photos on this blog.


There are some goofy reflections in my glasses (and in the mirror behind me) but my skin tone looks much more true to life. I glow in the dark in real life, dontcha know.

With a flash, you can do something very Terry Richardson-esque, minus the sexual predator thing.

This next one is a leeeetle bright, but I like it anyway.


It makes your hair shiny and your skin glow. You can totally capture the highlight you put on your face, which in real life is bright enough to blind a small Tibetan village, but just wasn’t coming across without a light aimed right at it. (More on the highlight next week.)

LOOK AT THAT HIGHLIGHT. Cheekbones forever.
How is this magic possible!? I use a speedlight. This one needs to be replaced, as it apparently sends enough voltage through your camera to paralyze a wildebeest, but it’s what I used for these pictures.
Do I aim the flash at my face? No I do not.
If you have white ceilings (which I do) you can aim it at the ceiling, or at a white/pale colored wall above your head, and the light will bounce down around you. The bulb on a speedlight can be aimed anywhere from 0 to 90 degrees, so the world is your oyster, son.
This is why you don’t aim the thing at your face.
Super attractive blast of light, right in the face. Everything is washed out. Not cool. I think one of the biggest culprits behind crappy flash photography is people using their camera’s built-in flash, and for the most part, they just aren’t that good.

Would you like an example? I’m going to give you one, but I just took these pictures and I’m still seeing orbs of light behind my eyes. Sweet lawd. This thing makes the speedlight look like a candle flame.

The camera’s built-in flash. Here we go.


Yikes. I tried to keep my eyes all the way open, but they aren’t dumb enough to endure that onslaught.

Not cool. They aren’t the worst pictures in the world, but that flash is just crazy intense. You can get a diffuser for it, but I think a speedlight or other unit that attaches to the hotshoe on a camera is a lot more versatile, and doesn’t give such crazy blasts of light mixed with such harsh shadows.

And those are my thoughts on flash photography.

Have a good weekend!