purpose of external flash?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nsupanda, May 1, 2009.

  1. nsupanda

    nsupanda TPF Noob!

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    I have a Canon Xsi. I am wondering what major purpose an external flash serves. I hate pictures where you can tell the flash was on by the extreme shadow in the background. However, I am needing a better lighting system for portraits (without the umbrellas and big equipment). I shoot people exclusively outdoors and sometimes half their face is hidden from the natural light. Here is an example: [​IMG]

    What specific external flash or accessories would you recommend? What is the difference between dedicated and non-dedicated flash? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  2. dcclark

    dcclark TPF Noob!

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    One of the single biggest reasons to get an external flash is the ability to "bounce" the flash off of a ceiling. That helps distribute the light and avoid the "shadows" you mention, and makes things look much more natural.

    In addition, you have much more control, and the ability to get more distance from your flash. Flashes can also act as "commanders" for other flashes, off-camera, which can light subjects from different angles (read: not directly from the camera).
     
  3. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    If you have someone with you, a reflector works great too with filling in the dark side of faces (or just adding a little light to your subject). I am JUST learning how to use my new flash and my head is spinning with all of the info.. The reflector is just the right amount of technology for me right now!:D
     
  4. nsupanda

    nsupanda TPF Noob!

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    I do have a reflector, but I can't hold it while I'm taking the picture. I do not have anyone to go with me to help :confused:
     
  5. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Theres quite a hard shadow on on the opposite side of that young lady. It's all relative. If you don't want to use an external flash, then you need to set up a reflective surface to fill in the shadows on the left side (camera right) side of her face.

    Of course off-camera flash outdoors is nothing to sneeze at:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Prop it up with a stick or something. It's a reflector, not a brick wall. I'm sure with a little time you could create a reflector that stands up on itself, by taking two cardboard pieces, wrapping them in tin foil, and putting a support stick or whatever, between the two. Instant portable self standing reflector.
     
  7. bdavison

    bdavison TPF Noob!

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    Something else you may want to try is a technique called "fill flash".

    And it can be done with your camera's on board flash.
    Look in your manual to find out how to adjust the flash compensation or EV levels on your specific camera.

    On those shots like the one you posted, you can use the pop-up flash and adjust the flash EV to put just a little "fill" light into the dark side of their face. It will help eliminate those shadows.
     
  8. nsupanda

    nsupanda TPF Noob!

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    Oh that would be great, I will have to figure out how to do that.
     
  9. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    That was MY problem as well. It gets a little tricky when you are trying to prop it up with one foot then a gust of wind comes along..you get the idea.:lol:

    I, also, shoot pictures of mostly children (ok, mostly my own) and they don't stay in one place long enough to get a reflector propped up when you don't have an extra set of hands. That is precisely why I bought an external flash too. Now I just have to figure out how to use it.
     
  10. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  11. TwoRails

    TwoRails TPF Noob!

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