Photography Tips – Fill In Flash Tutorial


On a nice bright sunny day like this one off the last things you may think of doing is using your flash, but trust me if you’re photographing people on a bright sunny day by the sea which you could well find yourself doing your flash can be an absolute god send, okay I’ve found a couple of skate bums, Dan, and Laurence they’re called, thank you for doing this guys i appreciate it, as you can see our faces are really really dark despite the fact we’re standing in bright daylight sunlight, that’s because the exposure overall is for the sky and the beach huts and everything else in the picture these dark areas they’re right out of range, they’re too dark for the camera to be able to capture along with the bright bits. This highlight on Laurence’s face and the one on my own they’re probably about the correct exposure but it means the important thing the face you can’t see it. You have to make a choice because it’s so far out of range, you can increase your exposure just open the camera a bit, let some more light in and then you have the correct exposure
for our faces but as you can see as soon as you do that, the sky goes all wishy washy and the beach huts lose their colour and these bright bits here they’re just burnt completely away, to do that with a video camera you’d have to add in a bank of reflectors or lighting, and it’s much the same with a stills camera. The great advantage of the stills camera is that you’ve got a flash on the top off it. This technique of using your flash to fill in the shadows is called fill in flash for obvious reasons. Now the flash isn’t going to effect the bright areas it can’t really it’s competing with the sun but it can make an impact on the darker areas, let’s just get rid of these sun glasses a minute so i can see what i’m doing. Now, first off all let’s just take a picture without any fill in flash what’s so ever, here we go, great stuff and as you can see the faces are really dark and the highlights are really bright, so let’s just turn the flash on and by the way i’m using full program mode for this, and by the way i’m using full aperture priority program mode for this. You can do it in aperture and priority modes but i don’t recommend you do it the first time you try i want you to get your head around how to control the flash and on what’s going on before you start overloading yourself with apertures and shutter speeds and all that kind of stuff I’ve turned the flash on let’s take the picture. here we go, same shot again. Good posing chap, now that one might be a bit over- flashed, the flash was too powerful and so it doesn’t look very natural, so what you can do is lower the power of the flash, see there’s a little plus and a minus above that button there, now whatever camera you’ve got there will be similar controls some where on it. If i press that button and then turn the front dial on my camera i don’t know if you can see there but i’m getting minus or i’m getting plus according attorney this is tending the flash how
to which way i turn it, this is turning the flash power when i go to plus or minus it’s making it less powerful so let’s go
to minus, i’m gonna go to minus point seven okay, so that’s like almost a whole stop of light, that’s almost half the amount of light coming out of the flash, let’s take the picture again. See what it looks like, here we go, that’s much better, that is a much more
natural looking fill in without having the shadows, now it’s just the same with dedicated flash gun, dedicated flash gun, very very similar procedure with it, as dedicated as on your camera just slot it in there, switch it on use the t t l or through the lens mode on the flash gun, that means the camera’s going to measure the light and
it’s gonna tell the flash gun what it wants it to do, it’s gonna tell it to balance it, but we don’t want that do we, because we want to make the shadows brighter, but not affect the highlights. So, you can select using the little selector here whether you want it brighter or darker, just like you could, excuse me, with the on camera flash, i’m going to set this to minus one there we go, that’s minus one stop, that means it’s a lot less light than the standard one. Don’t start trying to work out those modes, i’m also gonna feather the light, i’m gonna point the flash head kind of like away from the guy slightly with a
diffuser because it’s a nicer, softer light that’s actually going to be hitting
them. Right here we go, good poses these guys, nice one chaps very moody, looking down like he wants to kill me. Straight away that is a really nice fill in flash, you can see the details but it’s still moody it’s kind of a much more evening border-y look to it. Fill-in flash is a very very simple
technique if you are on the beach having a picnic with your family on the bright
sunny day you’ve got black shadow’s going everywhere all over the people’s
faces, just by setting up your fill-in flash
when you arrive when you when you get there it means your camera is ready to go, just pick it up and you’ll get some great shots of the family having a lovely time.

Comments 41

  • I honestly never knew flash was this useful, i always treated it as something that makes pictures have a "last night at the party" look if that makes any sense.
    Cool glasses 😛

  • Another useful and informative video..
    Thankyou

  • Love your videos, but the diffuser used outside doesn't actually create a softer light because there aren't any surfaces for the light to bounce off. The softness of the light of is always a result of the size of the lightsource, so with a diffuser on outside your're just loosing a lot of light in every direction, but not getting softer light.

  • That's what i thought too. I just commented the same thing on one of his other videos..

  • Well.. the point is, that flash without diffuser has limited surface which shines, so it behaves more like shining point. On the other hand if I put a diffuser or big white card on flash, it enlarges the surface significantly, which makes flash softer.

    Same works for softbox.

  • thank you so much mike! – I never knew what that button did!

  • Amazing video! Thanks so much!

  • but Mike also said something about "feathered" light, didn't he? 🙂

  • Yes but feathered light would make sure that both of the guys get the same amount of light, when one of them is closer to the lightsource, and not create softer light.

  • Thank you – Mike

  • Love these tutorials Mike, I've been watching them with my camera instruction book open at the same time to locate the various controls as you mention them.
    It really bridges the gap between the instruction book and actual photography.
    Bought your DVD too, a great way to get started.
    Please keep them coming?
    Maybe more food photography?

  • Thank you Geoff. – Mike

  • Hi Mike, your tutorials are really great! Can you do a tutorial of how to photograph a person standing with a glorious golden sunset behind him/her using flash/softbox?Thank you in advance.

  • Hi Mike,

    Love your vids. Excellent.

    thnx

  • HI MIKE. I HAVE SEEN PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS USING THIS METHOD IN THE DAYTIME, BUT THEY HAVE THE FLASH HEAD ALWAYS POINTING DIRECTLY AT THE SUBJECT, WHY?. WHAT R THERE SETTINGS REGARDS GRAHAM

  • Depends on distance. If you're a long way from the subject then using the edge of the light might not be powerful enough. The settings need to be the ones that work for the situation you're in and to achieve the look you want. More light / less light etc. The only way to learn this is through experience so sorry all I can suggest is to do what i say in the vid and do lots of practice. Have fun …

  • This man really does know how to explain things properly. So easy to understand.

  • Hi Mike, whenever I try using fill flash, my whole image gets blown out even when I dial down both my flash and the camera. Do you know why? I have a Nikon D90. Thanks.

  • I'm sorry I don't. Maybe there's an auto setting buried in those pesky menus that over compensating. I find fill flash usually works best in P mode and TTL mode on the speed light. If using the little built in pop up check in the menu to see what the output is set on. It might be set too high…

  • Another awesome video by Mike. Thank you so much for all the info you share.

  • Thank you, my pleasure, feel free to spread the word about us, thank you

  • Thanks for explaining, glad I kept my sunpak !!!

  • Thank you – me too 🙂

  • Thank you

  • excellent video, you've just explained to me what so many others have failed to do

  • Thank you

  • Thank you Mike for all of your wonderful tutorials. Can you please do a video on flash sync speed ?.

  • Thank you. Good idea so that's a probably will sometime soon…

  • Mike you are the best tutor of all, I've learnt so much in so little time with you Greetings from Sri Lanka a small wonder in Asia

  • Hey Mike!, I am a freelance Photographer and I really enjoy your videos, they are very helpful!!! 

  • Nice video Mike. I enjoy all your tutorials. But I have to add … the diffuser has no value in outdoor shooting. It's value is found indoors where there are multiple surfaces that can bounce the light (spread out in all directions by the diffuser).

  • hi Mike, great videos. how about a video on balancing ambient with flash in manual camera mode?

  • simply the best videos on learning photography.

    Nissin MG8000

    Godox Ving V860II

    Metz 58 AF-2

    Nikon sb-700

    im looking at theese flashes what would be the best for me who cant anything about flashes?

    i have a d7100

  • hi mike, got 1 question regarding the video here. when shoot the two skateboard model, where do u focus? is it on the model, or to the background?

  • Thanks for this tutorial, Mike. While it's a few years old now, it helped me pass a photography assignment for a criminal justice class as I was having trouble with the whole fill-in flash concept. Your explanation was simple and effective. Thanks a lot! Liked and sub!

  • Great video. Love how your two subjects are like……"is this gonna take long???" lol

  • I usually dont care about the sky in these situations 🙂 I messure the faces with spotmetering and fire away. But when i want a darker backround or more blue in the sky i under expose a bit and crank the shadows up in lightroom. These days no problems with todays camera's. But maby a bit of work extra on the computer 😉

  • That's amazing! I never even knew that built-in flashes could be altered like that. Now I know how to use the flash on my camera properly! Thanks, Mike!

  • Grate bit of info mike as a have a dedicated flash witch i rarely use. You are full of surprizes and here i thought i knew it all 🙂

  • Incredible tutorials Mike, fantastic way of understanding, I have learnt so much. What kind of diffusion would you suggest for taking macro insect shots? I have a pop up flash also, but can't seem to get the matte finish I am aiming for. Many thanks.

  • This is an important video for me because I can't figure out how to make my Canon rebel use the flash in a auto mode. It seems I can only do it in a manual mode. But I want to take pictures of people and not worry about all settings. So I'm stuck until I can figure out my camera. My brother, who has passed me in photography knowledge, can't seem to figure it out either. I feel like going back to my film camera and flash, but that's pretty expensive.

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