The usage of flash in photography has always been a sticky subject among wedding photographers and even non-photographers as well. In fact, there are actually some photographers who despise the idea of using flash or even light modifiers as they feel either they are “unnatural” or just not comfortable using it.
However, there will be instances when flash is necessary to use in certain situations. We shall further look at those situations here in this piece as to what would warrant them for the use of flash.
At Wedding Venues and Reception Areas
Wedding ballrooms, churches and reception areas are prone to have less than ideal light for photographers to take advantage of. Thus, the flash helps create a primary source of light that is brighter and more pleasant than the dim ambient light. It has to be noted though that in a number of cases, churches do not allow using flash during ceremonies, so you have to discuss using artificial light with the church personnel before the ceremony.
To help diffuse the harshness of the flash, if there are white ceilings in the area that are not too high, you can mount flash on your DSLR and bounce light off the ceiling or nearby white walls. Alternately, you can use what is called a bounce card which (with the flash) will enable your image to have a much better light source than direct flash.
Photographing Details Indoors
For wedding photographers like Steve Burton, part of the job is to photograph well the details that highlight the theme of the wedding or other interesting details. Sometimes, the light in the venue would suffice, sometimes they would not. If it is the latter case and you wish to save some time photographing details faster, a flash on top of your camera bouncing off a white card might suffice.
When subject is poorly lit outdoors
Most photographers do not bother with flash outdoors, with natural light readily available. Unfortunately, that light is not always available, especially once the sunset arrives. Much like photographing indoors, you may need to use artificial light source, such as flash.
Fill Flash – when shooting backlit
Shooting subjects in a backlit setup can create a nice separation and bring more depth to images. But if the subject is heavily backlit (say with the sun behind), the opposite side of the subject which is facing the camera might get underexposed. Fill flash can help in this situation; single diffused light positioned away from the camera would do the job.
Overpowering the sun to avoid hot spots and intense shadow
While the sunlight can be a good friend for outdoor photography, there are times, usually in the afternoon, when the light can be too harsh on the photo as the sun is directly overhead. Setting up an umbrella or a softbox with the flash helps get around that problem and you get beautiful photos as a result.
Avoiding environmental color casts on your subject’s skin tone
Sometimes when working with natural reflectors, you get to run into a problem where your subject will assume the color of the reflective surface. You can reduce this effect by using a reflector right next to your subject or use fill flash (umbrella, softbox or other modifier) to illuminate your subject, which will more or less isolate him/her from the rest of the background and reduce color reflections.
Flash helps provide dimension in your photography, allowing you to solve or at least get around the problems you sometimes face in photography. Just remember to leave some room for creativity to get the best results as possible in your photos.