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Mini flash tutorial, part one

Mini flash tutorial, part one:

We have all seen them, the little point and shoot cameras with the built in flash on the front. Or the the Smart phone with the little lens and little flash right next to it. Then there are the consumer DSLR cameras that have the pop up flash. May I just say, I hate all of these, and you should too. Well hate is a strong word, and I should not use it. Lets just say I dislike them immensely. Here is why.

First off these tiny little flashes cause nothing but distractions. They make the subject look startled and over exposed. Not to mention the either blown out background or totally dark background. Oh yes then there are the demon eyes. Dogs and cats come out looking possessed. The flashes form such a small concentrated beam of light that is so harsh, you would honestly be better off using a flashlight.

Oh and when we are trying to get "The Shots" that clients have paid us a lot of money to get, people these things mess up our metering, and cause shadows. Not to mention that people are now looking in all different directions. Don't worry I will let all of you have plenty of time to take your photos when we are done! .....Uh oops getting off topic here. Did I mention I do not like these things?

Also they are so underpowered that if you are standing more than three feet away from your subject, the flash is useless. I always get a chuckle when someone is at a sporting event in a huge stadium and trying to use their little pop up flash in the nosebleed section. ...Uh good luck with that. If you know what flash fall off is raise your hand! If not pretend you do and take notes

Flash fall off is simply the loss of power from your flash. To give you an idea, even the most expensive powerful professional flashes are not immune. By the time you are 3 feet from your subject you have lost 40% of flash power. 5 feet from subject, over 50% of flash power. 10 feet over 80% of flash power. I often hear people say "well I zoomed in and the picture is still very dark, why"? Well your lens may have zoomed in, but you are still standing over 20 feet away.

Try this little experiment find an object in your home, doesn't matter what it is, but something that is not highly reflective. Make sure it is not too dark. Take a shot of your subject with the flash, pretty close, then move back 3, 5,, 7, 10 feet. You will see a dramatic change in how much light actually reaches the subject.

Next time, we are going to talk about softening the flash, reducing or eliminating red eye, what pros do.

Robbie McLean is the Creative Director and lead photographer at Bayline Studios Photography and Events, LLC, of Maryland