Essential Digital Camera Tip: Using Fill Flash

If you’re new to using a digital camera, and you feel that you might not be getting the best photos possible because you don’t fully understand all of the controls and features on your digital camera, and perhaps you’d like to learn a few simple tricks for instantly improving your photographs, then you’re in luck! In this short article I’m going to share with you on of the best and simplest tips you can quickly learn in order to instantly improve many of your photos. It’s called using fill-flash.

Many newcomers to photography don’t fully understand how the onboard flash of their dSLR camera works. However, one of the most useful features on almost all digital cameras is the fill-flash function. Through using your camera’s abilities to precisely control your flash, you will be able to ensure that your flash fires just when and how you want it to fire. Instead of when the camera decides for itself when the best time is to fire its flash is. If you take control of the flash in this manner, you’ll have taken an extremely important step toward drastically improving your outdoor photography.

When your camera’s flash is set to fill-flash mode (sometimes called “flash on” mode) your camera will first adjust itself —it will alter its aperture, shutter-speed, and/or ISO settings —in order to correctly expose the background in your scene. Then, your camera will add just the right amount of flash to adequately illuminate your foreground subject. As a result, your final photograph will have a truly professional appearance — wherein all elements of your picture are properly exposed. Your background won’t be too light or dark, nor will your subject. The exposure in your shot will be nicely balanced.

Without using your fill-flash, if you had set your camera to properly expose for the bright, day-time background, your subject likely would have come out severely underexposed —in dark shadow. If, however, you had set your camera to properly expose your subject, then your bright, day-time background would appear overly bright and washed out. Fill-flash remedies this problem. Wedding photographers, especially, but many other types of photographers as well, regularly use use fill flash as a matter of routine.

For a really professional look — once you become familiar with using your camera’s fill-flash functionality outside, you might then wish to try a few different experiments with your fill-flash. Try positioning your subject so that the sun is behind them and shining through, and illuminating, their hair. Photographers refer to any light source that is used in this manner as a “rim light.”

One other simple, but quite useful, technique is to place your model in a shady area —perhaps underneath a tree. Then you can use your camera’s fill-flash to illuminate your model. Doing this will help to keep your model cool and will help them in remaining comfortable during a shoot. This will also remove the need for your model to squint their eyes in the bright sun. Working in this way will produce a much more natural, relaxed looking, and appealing photograph.

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