Noob Question About Using A Flash

TMHahn

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When do you recommend using a flash? I have an SB-700. Do I use it all the time? Only in dim lighting? Inside? Outside?

I want to decide when to use the flash and not just get surprised by my camera's onboard flash popping up (although it won't pop up if I have the SB-700 attached). I did a search in the forum for "flash" and got a lot of advice on which flash to buy, but less on when it's appropriate to use it.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this noob question!
 

cgipson1

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I use mine almost all the time.. except for landscapes / moonscapes. My goal is sharp images that "pop" and flash can help with that. The thing is.. you have to be careful! Too much Flash is like too much Chipotle.... OUCH!

So yes.. Indoors (light), outdoors (fill).. any lighting. When you feel it needs it... and you will develop a "feel" for that the more you practice. Manual flash is the most accurate... TTL is so and so.. sometimes too much, sometimes not enough.

Off camera flash is best... wireless triggers are cheap. Even your SB700 ON camera is still better than the popup flash... bouncing flash is good, diffusing flash is good....
 

Derrel

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There are a lot of ways to use a speedlight. On-camera bounced up and forward, or bounced off to the side, or bounced wayyyyy off distant,high ceilings with the camerra set to ISO 1600 to 4,000...all of these things can work. The last technique is one Denis Reggie, the famous wedding shooter,m uses a lot and which he calls "foofing".

The thing in low-light flash is that the flash can be either the "main light", OR it can be very low-powered fill-in lighting that lightens shadows and prevents NOISE in the shadows.

There are different kinds of flash metering. Not "all" flashes offer "all" metering modes. There is TTL, balanced TTL, AUTO-aperture, and Manual flash modes. Thhose four modes are the basics. There are other controls, like second curtain synch, stroboscopic or repeating, and High Speed Synch (canon's HSS) or Focal Plane Sync (Nikon's name for it is FP Sync), which allows flash to be used outdoors in BRIGHT, bright sun, at high speeds like 1/2500 second and f/2.8, etc.

You can use flash a lot of different ways, if you have the right camera and flash.

I think Neil has the one of the very BEST blogs on flash: 01 - natural looking flash - Neil vN - tangents
 
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TMHahn

TMHahn

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Thank you for the insight. After I asked the question, I realized it was more complex than I had originally thought. "When do I use a flash?" Well, it depends. I'm going to start using it a lot more than I have been, especially outdoors. I think I need to develop that "feel" for when to use it and when not to. Thank you for your replies.
 

OrionsByte

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Thank you for the insight. After I asked the question, I realized it was more complex than I had originally thought. "When do I use a flash?" Well, it depends. I'm going to start using it a lot more than I have been, especially outdoors. I think I need to develop that "feel" for when to use it and when not to. Thank you for your replies.

Yeah there's not necessarily any "right" or "wrong" time to use a flash - it just depends on what kind of look you're going for. Flash or not, without light you're not going to get a good photo. So if there's not enough available light to get a decent exposure, you're going to have to figure out how to solve that problem. There are settings on your camera that can help if you take the dial off of auto, but you're still going to hit limitations. Adding flash is one way to compensate for that, but even adding flash is more than just an "on" or "off" decision - there are a lot of different ways to use flash that all have a different effect on the photo, so a healthy dose of reading and experimentation will go a long way. :)
 

hirejn

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I recommend using it when you understand how it works. Controlling it is a big topic. You should understand how ambient and flash work in a single exposure. Once you understand that, you can control it to get the look you want.

Use it when taking pictures of people outdoors to fill shadows. Set flash exposure compensation, or FEC, to -2/3 as a starting point; the goal is to fill shadows, not blast them out.

Flash is usually more of a requirement indoors, but set your white balance to the main light and then gel the flash to match it. For example, if you have tungsten-burning lights, set WB to tungsten and put a warm gel on the flash. The SB-700 comes with a tungsten (orange) and fluorescent (green) gel. That's what those are for. Understanding WB is a bigger topic and it'll take some time to learn. However, getting it right elevates your images.

Do not use flash when in a stadium or arena. The flash will do nothing to illuminate players or the field. It will illuminate only the people in front of you.

These are just three simple tips but mastering flash is a big topic and takes some practice. Once you understand how it works and what it does, you can then make better decisions as to when and where to use it and how. You can find out more about this on my blog: Joel Nisleit Photography | Understanding How TTL Flash Photography Works. Sekonic also has helpful webinars on the topic, as does PocketWizard.
 

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