Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Importance of Fill-Flash

This is probably old-hat to most of you, but when it comes to situations where the camera sees the subject very differently from your eye, I find that you can never hammer this point home often enough: Fill Flash Matters!

Have a look at these two images of my new favorite test subject : See how dark the baby's face is under the eyes in the left shot?  It sure didn't look that dark to me when I was standing there! That's one of the biggest problems with photography - the film or digital sensor can't see nearly as wide a range of light as the human eye can. That's why in outdoor scenes, it's important to ensure that what's in shadow doesn't render as depressingly dark.  Lighten your shadows by turning your camera's flash ON (as in the right image). When the light is strong, the camera's flash will do its best to lighten the shadows so they look more like the way we remember seeing them - all automatically.

Once you understand how the camera reacts so differently to light, you can never again look at Hollywood images of people wearing hats and not think to yourself, "They must have used a giant mirror outside the frame to fill in those shadows and make the faces visible!" (Which in fact they did all the time when filming "Little House on the Prairie" - have a look this youtube clip and watch how the lighting on Michael Landon's face gets brighter as he pulls into the spot where the fill light is waiting).

(For those of you who are not reading this piece on blogspot, the youtube video is here:

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