Most photographers can get a solid picture when the conditions are perfect- plenty of natural light. It’s hard to mess up a picture when you have the perfect amount of natural light and you put the camera on Program Mode.
But when lighting conditions get tricky then a photographer with the correct equipment and experience in low light and flash photography is worth their weight in gold.
This is the most important rule with flash photography. The flash should not be noticeable or should not be the obvious source of light.
How many times have I seen a reception photograph where it’s obvious the photographer blasted the scene with flash in ETTL mode and the camera in Program Mode. The whole scene is a white (or blueish if they were too lazy to white balance) glare. Tons of shadows and strong contrasts in the picture which looks terrible.
The above images were taken in a reception that was really dark. But the beauty of the images lies in that you cannot tell if a flash was used. Lots of soft shadows and the warm glow of the ambient lights.
Balance the flash with the ambient light and the image will look amazing!
Camera- Manual- it’s easier than Program mode!
f 2.8-3.2- controls the light from the FLASH- the lower the number on the F#, the the brighter the image because more light goes through aperture.
1/50- 125- Controls Surrounding light- Slower shutter speed = more surrounding light. Ambient surrounding light is preferable.
ISO 400- The higher the ISO, the brighter the image. ISO affects light sensitivity.
Flash Setting – I use Canon Speedlites 600. I start with 1/32 power and adjust from there.
In a dark reception, you will need to adjust settings constantly to get the perfect exposure. This is not as bad as it sounds- IF you understand the relationships between F stop, shutter speed, flash output, and ISO.
If you know the above, then you can make quick adjustments in a blink of an eye. Most tweaks are a simple shutter change, or aperture change.
1- Set camera to F3.2, 1/80. ISO 400 and Flash output to 1/32.
Angle the flashhead to 45 degrees.
Take picture and look at it.
2- Make adjustments based on what you see.
Too Dark- you need more light- How? Raise ISO, or Increase flash Output, or make aperture smaller.
Too Bright- You need less light- How? Lower ISO, or lower flash Output, or make aperture larger.
3- Take another picture and repeat.
With A LOT of practice, you will know exactly what adjustments you need to make quickly.
If you need any help or want me to critique an image taken with flash and you are not sure what happened, I’d be happy to help