Fill Flash or no Fill Flash

Many people only grab their flash for indoor and low light situations.  However, sometimes a little fill flash can be helpful whilst shooting in bright outdoor situations.

Today is bright but really very overcast and this evening I’ll be hoping to get a few photographs at Archers of Raunds during Brad’s presentation and also some shots of the beginner’s course for a presentation.

Working with the world’s greatest soft box and the potential for a back-lit shoot, I thought it best to experiment with my new camera, 70-200mm lens and fill flash. So grabbing Lauren for an impromptu couple of shots in the back garden (back-lit of course), we tried a few shots with and a few without the flash operational.

As expected, the results speak for themselves and really underline why professional photo journalists often carry an on camera flash. I think that I’ll still play safe tonight and have the flash fitted and ready to fire, but also take some shots whilst the flash is charging to be sure of capturing at least one good image. It’ll just be a shame not to be able to use flash whilst the archers are shooting – I guess health and safety have to come first again.

Lauren without fill flash

Lauren without fill flash

In this image the flash wash not used and the shadows on Laurens face and especially her eyes cause an issue with the photograph. In portraiture photography and taking images of people, everyone knows that it is especially important to  focus on the eyes.

It therefore follows, that by having Lauren’s eyes almost totally obscured by deep harsh shadows we have a less than perfect image and I’d go as far as to say that it is one for the cutting room floor.

I don’t know about you, but I find that my eyes are initially drawn more to her forehead and cheeks and then they drift away to other parts of the image, like the flowers.

Lauren with fill flash

Lauren with fill flash

Now let’s add some fill in flash.  I did not have a reflector or anything to bounce flash off of, but those will be the conditions this evening so this test was perfect for my purposes.  So, my only real option was to fire the on camera flash straight at the subject.  Angling the flash simply lit up the sky someplace else and, predictably, it was worse than useless.

Lauren is standing a good six feet form the background (shed and green foliage) and about a foot or two forward of the flowers.  Using my 70-200mm (@ 70mm) had me standing a good six feet away from Lauren.  Again just about right for this evening.  The flash would therefore not affect the background very much, but it was only Lauren that I needed the fill flash to hit.

This is a crude test, but I think that the results speak for themselves.  In the second image we pick up the flash in her eyes which are perfectly illuminated.  picking up the whites of her eyes draws your attention more to them and the key subject of the image, rather than other parts of the image.  Even with a very light coloured top, the image looks reasonably well colour balanced throughout.

A successful test and a good reason to try fill-in flash even during bright overcast conditions.

 

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