Using a flash in harsh mid-day sun

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by inTempus, May 31, 2009.

  1. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I know that people often wonder what the best accessory is for their new DSLR. I struggled with this too... Many often forgo the flash, putting it off until after buying lots of others things like several lenses.

    I've found that the flash is probably one of the most useful accessories... I should say *the most useful accessory* you can buy. It's not just for shooting in low light, it's also very useful for shooting in extremely bright light as well.

    I was on vacation last week visiting family. I went to the park in Kansas with my son to get some pics of his first time on a swing. I brought my 5D and a couple of lenses plus my 580EXII Speedlite.

    ...a Speetlight on a bright sunny day? There should be plenty of light, right? Sure! But there's also plenty of harsh shadows to go with it. :)

    Here's an example of a shot taken without a flash.

    [​IMG]

    Not bad, right? I don't think so. My son has the most beautiful blue eyes, but you can't see them in this shot. The sky was cloudless, the sun was directly over head (1pm) and there wasn't any shade available (trees or the like).

    So I mounted the Speedlite to fix things. I dialed the flash back to -1 stop and shot. Here's the result.

    [​IMG]

    In my opinion, this is much better. Now you can see his eyes and there's better separation between him and the background. I didn't bring my defuser, which I could kick myself for, which would soften the light a little more. But still, the effect in my opinion is much better than not having used the flash.

    Just thought I would share this with those who might be thinking about what accessory to buy next.
     
  2. sburatorul

    sburatorul TPF Noob!

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    thanks tharmsen. i was thinking of buying a flash for quite some time but now i am sure i need it. the only thing is it is quite pricey in this parts... a sb600 is about 300 usd... way above what i can spend right now...

    btw. really sweet kid and you are right. his eyes are really beautiful.
     
  3. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    Funny you mention this. I just went to a birthday party yesterday and it was in the middle of the day in 80 degree weather..not a cloud in the sky. It was my personal little challenge to use my flash all day and try to get this whole "fill flash" thing down.

    Here is one I took. I know it's not that great of a shot, but look at that blue sky! I'm so happy that I'm not blowing out skies anymore to expose for my subject.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Once flash was essential for any moving photography - a landscape was fine but all those old portraits were mostly done with some flash support from a flashbulb.
    Nowadays ISOs have sort of come to replace flash and many a person feels that flash is a sin to use and that one should work only with natural lighting - this often comes because they pop the popup, shoot a few shots and get horrid popup flash lighting. Good flash controled lighting does not even have to look like flash was used.

    Its a good example above for showing how flash can work in bright lighting with shadows - though I would say the second shot looks flashy - a closeish flash outside I find benefits a lot from a diffuser - even indoors its not always possible to bounce the flash (roof too tall, walls to decorated, odd colours etc...) so diffusion is an important consideration.
    Myself I use a lumiquest softbox on my speedlite here are some example shots shot in ETTL (no expert here remember ;)) with the flash pointed directly at the subject:

    Without any diffuser:
    [​IMG]

    With diffuser:
    [​IMG]

    OK so the second shot could be a tad brighter, but the point is the lighting no longer looks like flash was used unlike the first where its clear that a flash was.


    edit - please tell me you were using some diffusion linpelk -- otherwise there goes my argument
    sigh - back to the drawing board..
     
  5. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I hope you manage to swing that SB600. You'll really get some use out of it.

    Thanks for the kind comment about my son. He's the center of my universe. :)
     
  6. Sherman Banks

    Sherman Banks TPF Noob!

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    Nice job! This is a very good example of fill flash during the daytime.
     
  7. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    Overread, yes I did use a diffuser on my flash.

    Sherman Banks, thanks for the compliment. That means a lot since I'm still fumbling around with this flash. Glad to know that someone thinks it was effective :)

    Tharmsen, sorry to pirate your thread :( I just got my flash last month so I'm a beginner just excited to learn. It was fun to see your thread since this was exactly what I was doing yesterday!

    I couldn't agree with you more about putting a flash on your wish list as your next must-have accessory.
     
  8. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Linpelk, you didn't thread jack at all. You're right on point with your posts/pics. Thanks for adding your input. :)
     
  9. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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    Using fill-flash is about the only way to shoot in direct sunlight and end up with a decent looking image. I find using E-TTL really works well in these situations (it's the only time I use E-TTL).
     
  10. Bitter Jeweler

    Bitter Jeweler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I am interested in how to use flash during the day, but while I am still trying to solidify my skills, I don't want to throw another variable into the mix. Sadly I have one great shot of a boy holding a butterfly shot in a glass "greenhouse", that would have benefitted from fill flash. But I'll get to that later, and come here for help. :)
    By then Linda will have this down and be able to give me some pointers. Your pics are looking good!
     
  11. linpelk

    linpelk TPF Noob!

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    Hey, thanks so much. That means a lot since I've been really down on my pictures lately..feeling like I'm trying too hard with this flash. I've been about ready to give it up. I feel better now. :blushing:
     
  12. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Getting a hot shoe flash early on is very sound advice!
     

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