Thursday, November 5, 2009

diffusing flash

I don't have any recently completed items & am not big on sharing works in progress so today I want to share a photography tip. The other day in one of the Yahoo groups I belong to, the subject of photographing our creations came up: specifically, to flash or not to flash. Sometimes you need the light a flash provides but that light is just too darn harsh. What can you do?
  • Weather and all other things permitting, take your photo outdoors.
  • Add other lighting at various angles to offset the shadows cast by other lighting.
  • Bounce light off white walls and/or ceilings. This spreads out the light and reduces the shadows.
  • Increase the ISO setting, attach your camera to a tripod and take the photo without the flash.
  • If your camera has an internal flash, try covering it with a piece of white paper, tissue, coffee filter, opaque plastic lid, etc. I've found various layers of bubble wrap work nicely. This lessens the amount of light reaching your subject, thus reducing harshness & shadows.
  • If your camera has a pop-up flash, cut a white or opaque plastic bottle so it will fit over the flash, thus dispersing the light a bit.

Beware that diffusing your flash can change the light from a bluish cast to a more golden tone. You may or may not like this. It's easy to adjust with your photo software if you want to change it....easier than trying to remove shadows.

If you're interested in more information, there are a good number of photography books & websites out there. Just google "diffusing flash" and you'll get all kinds of hits. Most important... experiment to see what works best for you, your camera and your situation(s).

Here are some photos from my experimentation last night. The first three photos were taken with my subcompact Canon with internal flash. Photo one is with no flash (it's blurry because I didn't use my tripod). Photo two is with flash and photo three is with flash that I diffused with bubble wrap. What do you think?

These next four photos were taken with my better quality Canon. Photo one is with no flash (using a tripod). Photo two is with added lighting. Photo three is with flash and photo four is with pop-up flash diffused by a plastic bottle. The differences are subtle, but there. If I wanted the best photo possible, I'd start with photo four and enhance it with photo software. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips. I will try the plastic bottle one for sure.

Val Foster said...

I like the experimentation you've done here. Thanks for your effort. The diffused light photos came out great. I'm going to have to try the bubble wrap next time I take pics of my art. Hopefully it will eliminate or at least reduce the glare. Good work, Di!

Ritz.. said...

I am new to your blog just came across it while updating my blog.... and its simply wow .... Your photos have so much life in it.... that is somehting i want to see in my photography also ... not to capture the moment but to capture the life in that moment !!!