Superheroes Without Capes – The Power Of Flash Photography

Do you know what you would get if you're bitten by a Flash bug? Probably amazing flash photography sense! Without exaggeration, the importance of effective flash usage in photography, cannot be overstated. It’s virtually a photographer's superpower!

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Technically speaking, great photographs require great lighting. That's why, your photographer will usually try to schedule your photoshoot at the very beginning of the day, or at dusk. Times like these are known in the photography community as the golden hours. But, it's not possible to conduct all photoshoots in those hours. It's possible that you or the photographer can't take out time, or even if you do, you get too late to catch the magical moments.

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Don't worry, while technology takes care of everything else, it does so for this as well. Enter, Flash. Photographers use it to achieve the effect they want through natural lighting. Well, considering the natural lighting modes are the sun and the moon, that can be considered a superpower, right?

A Short Math Lesson

Now that you know the basics, let's get to the fun part. Yes, most of you might be thinking that a using a flash in professional photography is just like using the one on your smartphone. That can't be further from the truth. It takes a lot of practice to nail it just right. Nature, as we discussed above, gives the subjects a dreamy, soft, and warm aura in it's golden hours. To recreate that effect, I use external flash devices and different light Modifiers.

Firstly, you have to figure out how much light you want to reflect off the subject, and at what angle. Secondly, how much ambient light is perfect for the feel you want in your photograph. A good ratio of both of these will give you the most amazing memories to cherish.

Why Use Flash?

Can't a photo look good without using flash? Definitely. But will it look better with flash? Absolutely. The thing is, that your camera cannot sense ambient light on it's own. The settings on your camera only allow you to either light up your subject, or your background. If you go with that, then your subject will appear dark and meek, or too bright against your background.

So, to add a kick to meagre photos, I set my camera to brighten the background, and use flash or strobe to highlight my subject. For a more dramatic effect, you can darken the background and highlight the subject to the max!

When Indoors..

Flash is not only used for outdoor photography, but helps maintain a balance in indoor photographs as well. In a typical room, light is usually generated from the ceiling or from the sides. This makes the glare harsh and imposing, taking all the glamour away from the subject. Have no fear, flash is here. In this case, I use flash or strobe to make extra light bounce off the subject as well, to combat the harsh light and give the subject a soft, dreamy look.

The Possibilities

When it comes to creativity through flashes, the sky's the limit. You can overpower the sun, bend commercial lighting, and make your subject visible in the darkest of times. When I use flash, I make sure my subject is the star. I control the amount of light in any way possible, to the least amount to the most, in the most dramatic and pleasing ways, check out these examples, for a picture speaks louder than just words.

Shoot outdoor on a bright day at 4pm

Shoot outdoor on a bright day at 4pm

Personally, I use the flashes and strobes on the Nikon Z7, to save my subjects from getting lost in the dark, along with magmod's modifiers.

shot in rain

shot in rain

Also, I work to create the best for my clients, because hey, with great power comes great responsibility. How? First of all if it’s a wedding photoshoot, then there are bound to be memories that need to be efficiently captured. Flash photography lets you catch a moment in mid second, as if it's been frozen in time. Check out some of my examples to get a better insight.

Apart from that, the flash can be used in a variety of colours as well. No, obviously flashes and strobes come in the same white light, but you can play with them to create different concepts and perceptions to give soul to your photography. Here’s a secret, I cover my external lights up with colored gelatin, so that it emits the color of light I want. In turn, I use that to focus on my subject to incorporate color in the dullest situations, and to give a exciting twist to contemporary landscapes, here are some examples of that as well.

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Balance It Out

It’s common knowledge that using something in excess is never a good idea. Similarly, while working with flashes, take it easy and try not to overdo it. Most photographers know when to use a flash and when not to, and to what extent. If you’ve chosen a photographer, then try not to interfere while he’s at work. You need to know that professionals know how to balance things out. Maybe, to you it might seem the photo is too dark, or you look too dark in the photo, but when the final image comes out, only calculated, balanced lighting can make it look good. We discussed the trust factor and the preparations you need to make with your photographer in our previous blog.

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Yes, dramatic photos do have their own look, but in most cases, flashes and strobes which provide a slight outline glow to the subject to separate it from the background is enough to make a simple photo magical.

Taking A Bow

Now you know that something seemingly simple as the use of a flash, involves timing, calculation, and perfection when it comes to photography. And to get this superpower, and ace this skill a photographer invests hours of hard work and passionate practice sessions, to give you an outcome you'll treasure for the rest of your life.

So, next time you see a photo with a beautiful, dreamy aura be sure that it’s a  photographer’s flash or strobe chanting the right amount of ‘lumos!’ from the background, to make the plain sight look magical.