Alternatives to Flash

avoid-flash-photography1If you are thinking of using a flashgun – stop and think. Do you really need to? Are there alternatives? Usually there are.

Why should you even start to consider alternatives? There are a number of reasons:

– Flash light is usually very directional and harsh – it does not give flattering results

– Flash light gives a flat image

– Flash light reflects off some skin tones giving harsh highlights

– Red eye is more likely with flash

– Flash drains the camera battery more

Flash is usually used in lower light conditions. As the light drops, the chances of blurred images increases. Flash will overcome this problem, but cause others.

How else might you get the picture without flash?

First of all, open up the aperture to the maximum. This will allow the camera to choose a faster shutter speed. For every f-stop the aperture is opened, the shutter speed decreases by half.

Secondly, increase the ISO on your camera. The higher the ISO the faster the shutter speed can be to produce enough light to create a decent image.

Thirdly, steady the camera. If the shutter speed is slow enough that you may be concerned about camera shake, steady your camera either with a tripod, a bean bag built for the purpose, by putting it on a firm structure (e.g. a wall or table), bracing yourself against a firm structure or such like. You can also use the self-timer to allow the camera to take the shot without out risking it moving provided the camera is on a firm surface.

Then compare your flash shots with your non-flash equivalents. Which do you like better?

Eric Hartwell runs the photography resource site and the associated discussion forums as well as the regular weblog at

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