A common problem faced by photographers using compact digital cameras or popup flashes on DSLRs is the lack of control over the integral flash. Often, the flash can be blinding and too strong, leading to blown out images.
If you're using a DSLR, the problem can be easily rectified by investing in a dedicated speedlight, which comes with the ability to be bounced in different directions. If you don't have that luxury, then here are some tips to help with camera flash problems.
- Change Your Settings. The easiest way to reduce the output of your flash is to alter your aperture, shutter speed, or (as a last resort) your ISO. A higher ISO, slower shutter speed, and larger aperture will all increase the amount of light entering your camera and decrease the amount of flash needed.
- Move Away. The closer you are to your subject when using a flash, the more likely you are to suffer from flash blow out. A simple way to avoid this is to step farther back and zoom in to your subject. Try to avoid zooming in too far though, or you may suffer from camera shake, which is a common problem with low light. Additionally, if you move back too far, your flash might not be powerful enough to give any light to the subject. You'll have to experiment a little bit when using this technique to find the best distance for your flash unit.
- Add Light. If it's possible (and won't get you thrown out of a venue!) try turning on more lights to decrease the need for flash. Or, if any ambient light is coming through the windows, position your subjects near this light source.
- Diffuse the Flash. Dedicated speedlights come with diffusers designed to soften light from a flash. If you don't have a diffuser, you easily can create your own by sticking a small piece of opaque material over your flash with masking tape. White tissue paper is ideal.
- Take Advantage of the Night Mode. Normally, I'd avoid using scene modes, but the Night mode can be useful, as it turns the flash into a slow sync flash. Your images may be a little soft, as the shutter speed will be a little slower. However, the flash will still fire to freeze subjects, but with less venom!