Introducing Flash Gordon

Creative Photography with a seasoning of Mindfulness.

Introducing Flash Gordon

When ambient light needs help

Why flash?

As you know, using flash in a dark area or indoors is a must at times.
What you may not have realized is that flash can also help you outdoors.
When you have an object in shadows, especially if using back-light, you may need to flash it in order to avoid capturing a silhouette image.

Here are two examples of what I mean. Although I didn’t manage to capture the lady with back light.

The left side of her head is hidden in shadow.

Popping up the built-in flash gives you what is called fill-light on the left side of her head.

As you recall, Photography is drawing with light. 🎨
So light has everything to do with creative photography.

Maybe you want a silhouette, maybe you want to see the surface of the object.
As always, it’s your call, your decision.

That little pop up flash on your camera

It isn’t a complete waste of space, that little pop up flash.
At times, it provides just the right amount of extra light to make the exposure you want.

The thing is, that flash is highly inflexible, It is a small light source that fires from directly above your lens, directly at your subject.
There are times to use it, but you will see that sometimes you need to have more control. Control over how much and from which direction your artificial light hits the object.

Advantages of a dedicated flash unit

The disadvantages of the built-in flash mentioned above are, at the same time, some of the advantages of a dedicated flash.

The flash is very flexible. For one thing you can have it mounted on the hot-shoe of your camera, with a controller however you can move it off camera for a maximum on flexibility.
Add to this the fact that the head of the flash can be swiveled up, down, left and right. This means, if you choose, your light isn’t hitting dead on. You can bounce the light off a ceiling or wall thereby using a large diffused light source.

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Power and Zoom

As you can see, you can adjust the power here.

What you are adjusting is the intensity or strength of the emitted light.
The power for this particular flash goes from 1/128 of full power up to 1/1 which is maximum power.
The setting reminds us of shutter speed; 1/128 second up to a full (1/1) second.
Until you have a good idea of what you need, set the power as low as you can (1/128) to save energy.

What is zoom?

Here you adjust the zoom.

The zoom cycles through the different values.

What I wanted to do was to take 3 images of the flash effect on the wall, to show you what the difference in zoom does.
What I had to do, because our apartment is too small to achieve the above, is to draw a graphic.
Now, I have never learned drawing or sketching so forgive me please.

You can think in terms of zooming with your lens.
A small zoom – 24 mm – is just like a wide-angle image, the area lit up is wide.
A large zoom – 105 mm – is just like zooming in, the area lit up is smaller.

Deflecting – bouncing – light

Take a look at these images,

This image took a direct hit from the front.

Here, the flash was bounced off the ceiling.

For this capture, I bounced the flash off the left wall.

What you can see is that you have three different images to choose from.

The object is first directly lit from the flash.
The light is bounced off the ceiling, the object is lit from above with a soft, diffuse light.
Bouncing off the wall to the side sends the same soft, diffuse light to the side of the object.

This is where creativity enters the game and where you get to decide how to control the artificial light.

Time to play 😁

Alright, if you’ve read along this far, I take it you have a flash unit and want to run your own experiments.
A few things to keep in mind.

  • To learn early; the difference between direct flash and bouncing or deflecting the flash.
  • If you can, setup your tripod and use the self-timer function to keep the camera still.
  • None of these example pictures were made at night. The task is to mix flash with ambient light from the window to capture the image you seek.
  • Start with the smallest power setting for your flash unit and add more power as needed.
  • Play around with the zoom function.

Let us see what works of art you can create with your dedicated flash.


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