When you’ve adjusted your ISO and don’t want to risk introducing any “noise” into your images; and when you’ve adjusted your Aperture to get the right amount of depth of field (e.g. everything in sharp focus or background blurred to make your foreground subject stand out more clearly; and when you’ve adjusted your Shutter Speed as fast or slow as you want it… and you’re STILL not getting enough light onto your sensor, to expose your photo(s) properly? Well, that’s when you need to add some flash into the mix, preferably from an external flash (as you can control direction, as well as the power of the light, to get that perfect balance of light hitting your subject when you take the shot). The “pop-up” flash on your camera is better when you’re able to turn down the power, so you’re just “kissing” subtle light onto your subject, to fill in what would otherwise be lost to shadows, but because it’s facing your subject directly, it tends not to give the most flattering look, especially when taking photos of people. If you can get hold of an external flash unit, you will improve the look by taking the flash off to the side (at an approximate 45-degree angle from your subject).
Depending on the external flash unit you get, you will be able to change certain settings on the flash, to add sufficient light when you don’t want to make any further changes to your camera settings.
Settings that top of the range flash units allow you to adjust, include:
- Flash Power… this will be a feature of virtually all external flash units, allowing you to keep the ISO on your camera low, by increasing the power of the flash output.
- Flash Zoom… if this is an option on your flash, you’ll be able to select a wide angle setting, to spread the light wider in the foreground; or you can zoom the flash to get it to spread deeper into the scene (but at the expense of how wide the light will spread – the further out you zoom the flash, the narrower the beam).