Using a Build-in Flash

There are two camera adjustments that many beginners don’t know about:  Exposure Compensation  and Flash Compensation .

I’ve covered the use of Exposure Compensation in a previous blog.  Here I’ll discuss the use of Exposure Compensation and Flash Compensation, when using your built-in flash to get photos correctly exposed.

The photos used in this blog were taken by two of my private lesson students, Michele and Nicole.  I want to especially thank them for allowing me to use their photos.

As those of you who read my blog on using exposure compensation know that you can easily and effectively increase or decrease the exposure photography by increments on less than 1 Exposure Value (EV) to obtain the best exposure possible.  Flash compensation works much in the same way by increasing or decreasing the brightness of your built-in flash.

Most camera flash units work well in a range of 3 to 18 feet from the subject. I recommend you consult your camera owner’s manual for the specific details for your model of camera. A good starting point for camera settings when using the flash is: ISO=200 to 400 with a lens of a focal length of 14 to 55 mm.  Set your metering mode to Evaluative/Matrix/Pattern or Center-weighted.

The process of obtaining the correct exposure is rather simple.  First, with your camera flash turned off, adjust the camera’s exposure using Exposure Compensation plus-neg so the background is correctly exposed.  Then turn on the flash and use Flash Compensation flash to adjust the flash brightness to get the correct exposure of the subject.

Below you will find a series of photos that illustrate the process of getting to the correct exposure.

Step 1:  The first two photos below were taken with the flash turned off.  Both are very dark and require an increase in exposure.

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The cameras were then adjusted using exposure compensation  to get the background correctly exposed.

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After several iterations, as it just happened, both students settled on an increase in exposure of +1 2/3 EV.

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Step 2: With the flash turned on, the next photos taken were too bright.

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Several additional photos were taken while adjusting the flash compensation  until the student was satisfied with the overall result.

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Below are the Final Photos.  These examples both required the exposure compensation to be increased and the flash compensation decreased.   The actual compensation adjustments will depend of the lighting and the subject.  Knowing how to make these adjustments will help you take better flash photos.

I hope this brief discussion and the photo examples will help you take better photos when using your built-in flash.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

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