Don’t Know How to Use a Flash? Point it at a Window

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If you’re new to photography, we’re pretty sure you might be intimidated by using a flash. And we totally understand why. The idea behind using a flash is that you need to know what light looks like. But the truth is that we never really notice it. It’s always just there. If anything, folks think using an LED is easier. But it doesn’t always give you better photos. Alternatively, with a flash, it’s hard to not get better photos with the little secret we’re about to tell you.

Want more tips? Click here.

This will sound pretty easy to do, but point the flash at a window during the daytime. Be sure that it’s right up against the window. Then set it to 1/4 power and move around the room. Photograph your subject. This works well with people, food, products, and a whole lot more. I’ve done it for almost the last decade. Set your camera to 1/200th, f2.8, and ISO 200. More or less of the flash’s output will affect the scene as you adjust your aperture and ISO. Don’t touch the shutter speed, though. It will only affect the amount of ambient light in the scene.

Then you can go about moving things around. See how your subjects look on one side of the room. Then the other. Then another.

The big thing that’s happening here is that you see what a flash does. You’re also boosting the natural light coming through the window. If you turn the flash off and shoot the same exposure, you’ll see the flash’s effects become more apparent. Below are a few other things to keep in mind.

Tips on Using a Flash

  • You can also mess with the flash’s power output, but doing that adds another variable.
  • Doing this at night won’t give you the same results as daytime. It’s tough to make a night scene look like night.
  • This works with high speed sync too.
  • We’re also telling you to point the flash at the window to show you how light works. If you point it at just a wall and use enough power, it can create a look that seems like daylight.
  • The same thing can be done when you work with a softbox, an umbrella, etc. But working with the window is how you’ll see the the most consistent effects.
  • This is a fantastic way to make an image that looks like it’s being window lit. Best of all, you don’t need to wait for the sun. You’re basically creating the look of the sun.
  • If you’re using a hot shoe flash, also use the wide angle diffuser. This will give the flash output the widest coverage and therefore the softest light output.
  • Lock your white balance to daylight. It will also show you what the lighting looks like and help you understand color better.
  • Of course, do all this using a radio flash. There’s almost no point in aiming it at the ceiling unless you’re shooting an event.
  • If the flash is too bright, stop the aperture down or lower the ISO.
  • If the flash is too dark, open up the aperture or raise the ISO.
  • If it’s still too dark, raise the flash power output.

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