Flash Photography Tips – Best Camera Settings for Beginners

by Alex W.

Many people have this misconception that flash photography is used to overcome low light or during indoor photography.

Well, flash is much more than a simple source of light. There is a lot to understand as far as flash photography is concerned. Flash provides more control and more exposure options. It also adds versatility to the camera.

However, flash photography can be quite confusing and unpredictable. If not used properly, it may also result in red-eye issues. Hence, it is essential to understand why and when to use flash photography and what camera settings to use.

When to Use Flash Photography?

The very first thing that you need to understand while using Flash photography is “when should you use it?”

A well-known fact is flash can be used in case of insufficient natural light or ambient light. This includes both outdoor and indoor photography. Flash brightens up the photo and adds life to it.

Beside this flash, can be used in a variety of other situations. Flash can even be beneficial when taking a photograph in bright lighting!

Confused? Using flash helps to illuminate the subject and provide “fill-in lighting”. This way, you can isolate the subject from its background. 

Flash also adds cool effects to the picture. You can both add shadows and minimize them, and use flash to shoot moving subjects.

Why Use Flash Photography?

You must be thinking, if the technique is so complicated why to use it? Well, the complications don’t negate the fact that flash photography is great for improving the overall quality of light.

It is used to…

  • Give Direction – Light falling on the subject may not be sufficient to capture that perfect shot. In these cases, controlling the light direction is crucial, and a flash helps to provide that direction. If the subject is not getting sufficient light, using a flash with a reflector can provide both additional light and controlled direction.
  • Create Separation – Flash photography can allow the photographer to create a sense of separation between the main subject and other areas of the photo. This stems from the contrast in light, and you can even control whether you subject is separated via warm light, cool light, soft light or hard light.
  • Clean up the Existing Light – It’s often the case that photographers like the lighting on the background of their image, but it just doesn’t work when that same light is falling on their main subject. Flash allows the photographer to replace existing lighting with their own, carefully tailored light.

Camera Settings for Flash Photography

Now that you are aware of the when’s and why’s of using flash photography., let’s move on to actually using it.

Flash Photography Beginner Tips
Flash Photography Beginner Tips

Mount the Flash and Turn Power on

In case you are using an external flash, insert it into the flash hotshoe which is present on the top of the camera. Once done, lock it by sliding the foot lock lever. Next comes switching on the power supply for the camera.

Once the camera is switched on and the flash attached, you are ready to begin your flash photography adventure. The experts at “Dhaval Patel Photography” always advise using batteries of the same brand to reduce the chance of battery leakage.

Also, once you’re finished using the flash, switch off the power supply before detaching it from your camera.

Reset the Flash Settings

Before taking any photos, make sure to check the flash settings and reset them as per your requirements. You can do this by navigating to the flash control option.

We advise making it a habit to reset these settings before every shoot.

Put Your Camera in Manual Mode

We regularly advise using manual mode, but with flash photography this is even more important.

Results can be highly unpredictable, and you can put yourself in a better position to deal with this unpredictability by using manual mode.

It allows you the freedom to find the right balance between the three corners of the Exposure Triangle – Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO – and blend these with your flash power.

Set Your Aperture to f/8

f/8 is the perfect aperture choice for a beginner. The larger depth of field means that you don’t have to worry about focus so much, freeing up your mind to think about lighting and composition.

Using f/8 also reduces the chance of overexposure due to the reduced maximum shutter speed that comes with flash sync speeds.

Set the Flash Power

For beginners, we recommend starting out with a low flash power. You can always increase it if necessary, but you can gradually increase it to find the right level of lighting for you.

This also preserves battery life, saving you from having to recharge the flash.

Finish Point

Once you are done with adjustments of settings, check how the shot looks. If everything looks to be on point, go ahead and take the shot!

Although flash photography seems complex, it’s really not that difficult once you find your feet with it. This comes through practice and practice alone, so get out there and experiment!

You can experiment using different flash settings, different positioning of the flashes, and different camera settings. Try using various combinations and check out the results.

Starting to get to grips with flash photography is definitely a fun experience, so give it a try and see what changes it can bring to your photography.

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About Alex W.

Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.

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