Flash: best friend or bonehead buddy?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Crosby, May 21, 2008.

  1. Crosby

    Crosby TPF Noob!

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    Ok, newb question here!

    As a general rule, do you always use flash?:scratch: Or do you try not to use it unless you absolutely have to?

    I'll clarify... I have read the popular book Understanding Exposure and he doesn't use flash very much. Since I've been shooting with a more creative stance, I try not to use flash, plus I feel I am learning my camera better that way. Yet when I see other photogs, where ever that may be (not that I see them everyday or anything), it seems they are using a flash.

    So, you personally, do you use your flash and call it your best friend or is it your bonehead buddy, only using him when you have to?
     
  2. sultan

    sultan TPF Noob!

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    There is no golden rule on when to use it but essentially:
    Indoors and in poor lighting - Use flash if permited
    On a bright day outdoors with the sun in the right place - No flash

    I normally don't use flash but that's because I mainly shoot outdoors in the daytime.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    depends - in good light with the light behind you you won't really gain much with flash - but change the light angle (say so its to the side or behind the subject) and suddenly using the flash to fill the details in in a really desirable factor - and there are many times when you won't be able to control the angle of light.
    After that there are some dark cases where flash is a real bonus - say you are shooting moving subjects (eg people) you can't use a longer exposure to get the light as you would only get blurr from the movment of the subject.

    However I would say that most people consider the built in flashes to be sub-par - good in you have nothing else but hardly ideal - a better flash unit is desirable
     
  4. Crosby

    Crosby TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. :thumbup:

    I guess I knew that, somewhat. Sure in the obvious conditions a flash is the only answer, but what about when you could get around it and not use Flash? Do you break it out or spend a little more time to set up your camera?

    Here was my situation: I was taking pictures at my daughter's piano recital... (everyone had camera envy:D) and I went to take a picture and the flash popped up because I was in auto. It probably wouldn't have hurt the musicians to flash, but I take alot of pics and don't want to be distracting... so I set it up to shoot manually without flash.

    The background wasn't interesting enough to be great shots, but I thought the photo quality was as good or better than shooting with a flash (and I was indoors).

    So, what's your preference?
     
  5. PhotoDonkey

    PhotoDonkey TPF Noob!

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    If I can get a shot that's not blurry without using flash, I will. Even if it means taking a few minutes to set up my tripod. I prefer the natural lighting whenever possible, but that's just me. I'm by no means a professional. I'm not even an amateur. Just a hobbyist.

    If I'm just trying to snap some quick pics of the kids, then yes, I bust out the flash without a second thought.

    In a situation like the one you mention, if I could get away without flash, then definitely, I wouldn't use it. Usually in those situations I've found built-in flash isn't adequate anyway.
     
  6. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH TPF Noob!

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    Figure out what you need in terms of shutter speed without flash, then decide whether things (including the camera) will hold still for that long. If not, use flash.

    Of course, if you want something specific in terms of light, you'll have to either make your own or wait for the right time of day/year/weather :)
     
  7. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    I had to flash every single shot at one wedding - it was so dimly lit that there was no other way of doing it!

    With Canon flashes, unless the flash is bounced they're only good for fill light. The ETTL works too much off specular highlights.
     
  8. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH TPF Noob!

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    A quick opinion from a definite non-pro...If the background's a problem, get rid of it; either shallow DOF to blur it out, (and the wider aperture helps with your lack of light, too) or move around and take tighter shots. Try to get the expression on her face, or her hands on the keyboard...I'm too lazy to check and see if you've mentioned what you're using, but if you're using digital, then when in doubt, move around and play with it. Even film isn't too pricey to experiment with when the payoff could be a really great shot. I figure that if a 24exp roll gets one or two pictures that I really like a lot, it's well worth having 23 ranging from mildly interesting to "what was I thinking?"
     
  9. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    A flash is a tool... neither good or bad. But, well controlled light is good. If a flash can help - go for it. And, if you can get it off camera, then definitely.

    The trick is to be able to use a flash - then decide whether or not it's called for. Some "natural light" photogs are incredible! Others are photogs that never mastered work with flashes... Big difference. :eek:)
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    People who avoid flash unless they absolutely have to are the ones who don't know how to use it.

    If you know how to control your flash, than it becomes another useful tool for expressing your creativity.
     
  11. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    And what do you call the thousands I see at the stadium flashing their sports heroes at 100 meters...?

    :lol::lol:
     
  12. Crosby

    Crosby TPF Noob!

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    Good comments, thanks.
    KD, you described most of what I did...
     

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