We talked about flash / Speedlite use as it relates to various forms of photography…..now we’ll move onto better controlling it’s less desirable effects. I’ve mentioned using a flash bracket, moving the flash further from the lens, as well as using a sync cord from the hot shoe to the flash, to bounce the flash off the ground / floor, wall, etc. and soften it as it lights the subject…..in a situation where there is ambient sunlight, maybe at an outdoor wedding, or portrait session, and you do not have studio lighting setup, direct use is ok, to kill shadows. In harsher times of day, it’s best to turn the subjects’ back towards the sun, and use the backlighting….but provide a fill with flash to light their faces. But nothing is more gross than blown out faces from flash exposure going wrong, it’s equally as bad as eye socket shadows. This is why control is the name of the game.
In a setting where there is a lot of shade, not enough to properly light the subjects, direct use of flash can be flat and separate the subject too much from any desired background mood……of course that isn’t always the goal. For example…..I went to a future wedding clients’ farm yesterday where I will be shooting their wedding. There is a creek, with banks and tree cover making it very shaded…..and not super easy access to get down there. The bride and groom will want photos wading in that creek…..it’s very pretty. I do want to light the subjects but also want to keep the background as a part of the photo….and avoid too harsh of a backlight. After studying the area, I think my best plan of attack is to bump up the ISO to maybe 600-800, and use a telephoto lens to create some distance, which in turn softens the flash but still provides the fill I want. Distance and bouncing / reflecting of light softens it from it’s direct source.