Photography Tip–Pop-up Flash Fix

Back when I first started this blog, I had attempted to post a photography tip once a week. I made it for a while and quit. I’m not sure why. Probably, it was just my general inability to stick with something I start. I tend to procrastinate sometimes.

I plan to work on that starting next week.

I promise.

Anyway, I thought I’d try, once again, to throw in a tip every once in a while, but maybe not commit to an every-week-kind-of-thing. I thought I’d make it a little more flexible and spontaneous…like me!

So, if you saw my post about The Flash Bus Tour, you know I have been learning more about using off-camera flash, as well as how to use multiple flashes at once.  We’re not going there, just yet.

Let’s just start with your point and shoot flash, shall we?

I think about the results that often come from taking pictures with that awful pop-up flash.  Often times, the photos are harshly lit, with your friends’ and family’s eyes glowing a freakish red…  But, what do you do if the point and shoot/pop-up flash is all you have?  How do you solve the problem?

Just about everyone has a point and shoot camera, or at the very least, they have a phone with a camera included. If you have a more recent “smart” phone, you may even have a flash included–I do. So, I’m actually going to show this tip using my phone camera. But, this flash tip can be used with equally good results using your point and shoot pop-up flash, or sometimes, even your DSLR and a Speedlite.

Here’s your tip:

TURN YOUR CAMERA UPSIDE-DOWN.

I mean it. It’s that simple.

Just the act of turning your camera upside-down will help lessen the harsh lighting that tends to come from the attached pop-up flash on your camera.

Here’s an example, using my phone camera:

  • without flash

20110409-064327.jpg

It’s not that great of a picture.  It’s sort of blurred, the color is sort of blah, and there are shadows all over the wall that are distracting.

  • with flash, right-side up (normal positioning of the camera–flash is oriented to light the main/upper half of the subject)

20110409-064334.jpg

On the iPhone, the flash is located on the right of the phone, so most of the light goes to the right–see the greenish, hot spot on the wall, to the right of the flowers?  Your pop-up flash is similar, in that, it is focused to throw all its power at the subject’s face, or the top-half of your subject, which can, sometimes, be too harsh.

  • with flash, but camera turned upside-down (flash is now oriented to light the bottom half of the subject)

20110409-064341.jpg

This example is subtle, I understand. But, I think you are able to tell a difference in how the light reflects off the fake flowers and the wall.  Compare the last picture to the top picture.  With the flash, it was brightened a bit (duh), and the shadows were decreased a tad.  Makes for a slightly better looking photo.  The light is not thrown directly at the subject, but the subject is still lit.  Pretty cool, huh?

I was at a photography workshop, last year, where the photographer showed us an example of a bride and groom that were positioned up on steps, outside, about 15 feet away from the photographer. He took the picture with a flash (Speedlite) attached to his camera. The bride and groom’s faces were harshly lit, and the bottom of her wedding gown was too dark, due to the fall-off of the flash (the light didn’t reach all of her dress–that equals one mad bride who spent a lot of money on that dress!).

His solution? He turned his camera upside down and took the same picture. The picture was much more pleasant; the bride and groom’s faces were not washed out, and her gown was now fully lit, because the light from the flash was being thrown from bottom-up.

Of course, after uploading your pictures to your computer, you will have to use one of your computer programs to rotate the photos back to the proper orientation. But, that’s easy enough.  (Or, some cameras allow you to do it in-camera.)

Anyway, try it out, more than once. It takes a little practice to take a picture with the camera upside-down, but after a while, it gets much easier, with better results.

Let me know what you think!

Happy Shooting,

E.

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