MQC Photo Costa Rica
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Photo Tips – Use of fill flash


If you look at my Photo Glossary, you will find this explanation: “The light coming from the flash is used as a complementary light for natural light. It will fill shadow areas in the scene with light.”

And I must add that it does much more than that… Flash also helps increase the sharpness of the images, because it also helps freeze any motion that might happen, even if your exposure is fast.

When you are photographing in the tropics, it is even more important, because the light here is so harsh, that flash softens that contrast, and even though we really do not want to get ride of the contrast, we do want to make it nicer! AND… remember that even though we are closer to the Ecuador, we still have a less powerful light when we are photographing under an overcast sky…

Well, even though I know all that, and how important it is in the tropics… I still forget to use it!

My picture of the month shows what could have been a fantastic image, but I did no use my flash, therefore the photo ended up being just a good lesson!

The photo below was also taken in the same situation as my Picture of the Month. This one though is not full frame, I cropped it to show the effect that no flash will make… Look at the histogram where the gray line shows the pixels that belong to the bird and the tree.

F-PhotoTip-March2013-01 A picture of the great green macaw with a +2EV and no use of flash.

Now, one person flashed as I was photographing, and my camera documented the reflected light that came out of that flash, look at the difference! The colors in the bird are much better, as you can also see in the histogram.

F-PhotoTip-March2013-02 A picture of the great green macaw with a +2EV and the lucky second hand use of flash.

Look at the difference in sharpness:

F2-PhotoTip-March2013-01 Close up to the bird without the use of flash.
F2-PhotoTip-March2013-02 Close up to the bird without the second-hand use of flash.

Maybe it doesn’t seems as much, but when the information is there, it will make a big difference for the post-production!

Lesson learned!