Tips for Using Automatic Flash

The very first photos I took as a child were taken at church camp. I was so excited about having my own camera, even if it was a relic. The biggest problem I had with this camera was the flash. Half of my pictures turned out and the other half of them featured unidentified streaks of light.

Most point-and-shoot cameras made today have a built-in, automatic flash. These are quite convenient and require little to no work on the part of the photographer. They are powered by battery and illuminate subjects within ten feet of the photographer. Automatic is great for candid shots and spur of the moment events.

Despite the convenience, automatic flash does have some problems. Besides being ineffective past ten feet, they are not adjustable. If you get too close to your subject, the flash will cause a glare and the photo will be over exposed. If you get too far away from your subject, the flash is rendered useless.

Automatic can also cause severe shadows, depending on the angle of the camera. This type of lighting can also cause red eyes in photos if the camera does not have red eye reduction built into the camera.

What I never knew about automatic flash is that it doesn’t need to be used very often. Indoor shots with low light or extremely overcast days may require its use, but you can get great shots with natural light.

Utilize any natural light around you to avoid using your flash. Even light coming in through a window can make for an interesting shot. Position your subjects in areas that are well lit for best picture quality outdoors. Try taking photos of your subjects with the sun behind you or to the right or left of you. If the sun is behind your subject your photo will not turn out right.

If you would like to try your hand at portraits, you are better off not using your automatic flash. Bounced light is great for these types of photos and will give your photo a softer appearance. Position a few lights so the main glare of the light bounces off the wall and illuminates your subject indirectly. Use three lights to illuminate your subject from different angles to eliminate harsh shadows.

If you like to take concert pictures, you should not be using your built in flash unless you are in the first few rows. Automatic flash is useless unless the subject is within ten feet of you. Even then, the flash could be blinding to the performer, depending on the type of performance. In fact, some performers prohibit flash photography at their shows.

Instead, try to utilize the existing light. Flash in a concert setting will generally illuminate the heads in front of you, ruining your shot. You may be surprised to find out your pictures come out even better without the use of flash.

If you can control shutter speed on your camera, you can try to make up for low light by slowing the shutter speed. This will allow more light to go into the lens. You should experiment with this first though. A slower shutter speed means the camera will need to be held as steady as possible or the picture will blur. If you have one, use a tripod for these types of shots.

Take some time to get to know your camera and what it can do. Read the manual thoroughly and take some time to experiment. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get the great shots you will cherish for a lifetime.

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