For most people, after purchasing a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the logical accessory to acquire is a lens. But if you do portraiture regularly, especially indoors, a flash can take your photos to a whole new level. The good news is that Nikon Speedlights are very easy to use, with a fully automatic mode called i-TTL. This means that the camera and the flash communicate to find the best exposure, one that will adapt to the subject according to the ambient light.
When starting out with flash photography, the first thing to be aware of is where the light that hits the subject is coming from. Most flashes are tiltable and swivel. It allows you to bounce light off items around you. And it also influences the direction and quality of the light.
Basics of flash photography
By aiming the flash directly at your subject, you will get very flat lighting that will probably make the face shine and create a shadow just behind the head. It is exactly these types of photos that most people want to avoid. This is often even the reason why they preferred to buy a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.If you’re indoors. The easiest way to get the best results from a Nikon flash is to switch to i-TTL mode (that is, auto mode). Tilting it so the light will bounce off the ceiling, then take your picture. From the first image, you will see that the shadow is gone and that there are no reflections on your subject’s forehead. You can also say goodbye to red eyes. What you just did is change the direction of the light. Instead of hitting your subject directly, it comes from above. As it bounces off the ceiling, the light is softened and moreover. It arrives in a way that looks like what we are used to in everyday life. It gives a much more natural result.
When you are inside, with walls and a ceiling around you, you have a wide range of possibilities to choose where your light can come from. You can choose the ceiling to have a more natural result, but you can also try using the walls. This gives you the ability to drastically change the direction of the light, just bouncing it off one wall or another.
When I take a photo with a flash, my goal is that the resulting image looks natural and mimics daylight. I don’t want people to say “He used the flash!” “As soon as we see my photos.”
If you opt for the ceiling, you will notice that sometimes, as the light is coming in from above, shadows appear under your subject’s eyes or neck. One way around this problem is to use both the ceiling and the walls. Tilt the flash so that it points slightly behind you. However, this technique should be used sparingly. Check that the wall is not too far behind you. Or your photo will be too dark if the flash does not have enough power to successively hit the wall, the ceiling and the subject.
In some situations, the flash output won’t give you the correct exposure. But you might not feel confident enough to change the output manually. This is where flash exposure compensation comes in. In the same way that your camera’s exposure compensation allows you to easily brighten or darken a scene in 1/3 EV increments, flash exposure compensation allows you to quickly give the image a shot. the camera will order to increase or decrease the flash output, depending on the situation.
Quick tips you need to know:
When bounce the flash off the ceiling, start at flash exposure compensation values between + 0.7EV and + 1.0EV. It gives a good balance between the lighting of my subject and the residual light on the background. It helps to illuminate it, so that it is not completely dark.
Flash photography is not strictly reserved for professionals. With Nikon’s i-TTL system, anyone can take amazing photos. Just by changing the orientation of the flash to create natural-looking light, while letting the camera find the best exposure.
By bouncing the light off the ceiling, the result is much more natural. But shadows can appear under the eyes and chin. If you want natural-looking light without the shadows under your subject’s eyes and chin, try aiming your flash at 45 ° behind you. Bouncing light off a wall adds an extra dimension to the photo. But remember that the flash light will take on the color of the wall in question. For this picture, the wall was white. The people around you will probably look at you strangely, but the results are worth the effort. In this example, natural light is coming in from the right. And I used the flash to balance the shadows on the left side of the subject’s face. From right to left, you can see the difference with different flash exposure compensation: +1 EV, 0 EV, and -1 EV.
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