View Full Version : On-Body Flash Question

27-06-2015, 5:34pm
Hi Guys,

A while back I was on a train which had a landing on the back of it. Due to the depth of the landing, I couldn't move back away from my subject (my daughter) very much.

From memory, I left the camera in either full-auto or in portrait mode as I decided that the backdrop would look nice, especially if it was a bit blurred.

In the first shot, the on-body flash wasn't used (f4, 1/1000th and ISO-400) and in the second shot, it was (f5.6, 1/200 and ISO-200). Do you think the 2nd shot looks too bright?

What would have been the better way to take these photos given I was using a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor DX AF-S 35mm f/1.8G prime lens? Should I have used the bracketing feature and gone +1 and -1 and somehow used software to merge them (I think that's how HDR works??).

Thanks in advance.

27-06-2015, 7:00pm
Using bracketing and merging them would have been a LOT of work, cause the background would change between shots, your daughter would move (even if slightly) and trying to get three very different images to blend would take a lot of work. You could use the original image (raw file?) and process that single raw file as an underexposed, good exposure, overexposed set (thus all three photos would not show movement), and use those three to blend.

The second is great, and if processed even more could be an outstanding portrait

You ask if the second shot it to bright, what you need to ask is what was the point of the photo, what is the subject? From your post, your goal was to get a good photo of your daughter, and the second is that.

Note that the New To Photography forum is for general questions and is not a CC forum on photos. If you want CC and advice on how to process the photo better, post it in the CC forums.

28-06-2015, 3:46am
A good question here MadMax. As this is not a CC forum I'll try to keep this general but will need to refer to your images, so hopefully ok here. You don't mention whether you shoot raw or jpg, and whether you do any post processing. These can affect, to a degree, what is done in-camera.

For me, the popup flash is a last resort and I wouldn't use it here. When the light source comes from the same direction as the camera (as in the case of the popup flash) the light fills in the shadow areas that the camera would otherwise 'see'. This removes the visual clues that we use to define shape and therefore has the affect of 'flattening' the subject. If you look at your first image here you can see that the highlights on top and the shadows underneath the cheeks; the shadow underneath the bottom lip and the highlight above the chin; the highlights down the left side of the face; etc; all combine to give a really good rendition of the shape of the subject's face. In the second image (popup flash), although there is still some shape here, the overall look shows more 'flattened' features. This is the reason that if you read up on flash photography the first thing they almost always recommend is to get your flash off camera or at least bounce it off the ceiling or something (of course neither of which is possible with the popup).

In the first image here the subject is underexposed but not hugely so. The exposure is within the range that could be increased with local adjustments in post processing. However what I'd do in this situation is increase the exposure by a stop or so and take another shot so that the subject was more 'correctly' exposed and just let the background exposure fall wherever. (Later I might bring the background exposure back a bit in post). However if you're shooting jpg and not post processing, the resulting background exposure might not be to your liking, so you might have no alternative but to use the popup flash. If you do use it and the subject is too bright you can dial in some negative flash adjustment which should help.

As you gain experience you'll recognise these situations before shooting and adjust your exposure accordingly (by metering off the subject for example). If you haven't already, it would be worth moving away from auto mode to one that gives you more control in situations like this such as aperture-priority or manual.

Let me know if any of this needs further clarification.


28-06-2015, 10:19am

Note that the New To Photography forum is for general questions and is not a CC forum on photos. If you want CC and advice on how to process the photo better, post it in the CC forums.

Sorry guys. I saw the top of the forum where it said "The NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY forum is for members to learn how to use their cameras and ask questions in relation to 'how to' achieve a certain result." and didn't read any further as I was thinking it fitted what I wanted to do - ie use an on-body flash without overblowing subject and I used the photos more as an example of what I meant.

Once again, apologies. I've re-created the post at http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?140300-On-Body-Flash-Question and will continue there.