By: Joshua Drazil
Sticking with the theme of the upcoming holidays, there is certainly going to be a lot of photographs being taken with all the early morning present unwrapping and cheerful gift exchanging. Christmas morning photography almost always lends itself to low light situations (indoors, ambient light, limited natural light and the fact that your kids probably wake you up well before the sun rises). In order to get enough light for a proper exposure and to avoid blurry images, you are going to have to break out the flash on your camera. If you are photographing objects, a tri-pod might be of better use than a flash as you will be able to make up for a deficiency in light by slowing down your shutter speed, but if you will be taking photographs of family members, a tri-pod will simply not suffice as there will not be enough light to keep them from blurring without the use of your flash. The following example is of an image that I think we are all familiar with (especially with portraits):
There is nothing wrong with this image necessarily, but like with images you might be able to relate to, it just doesn’t look as good as you may have hoped; it is missing something critical. What we have here is the prime example of typical flash photography: harsh shadows, blown out colors, revealing details that would be better off going unnoticed (the plastic leaves on my artificial tree), and simply a photograph that is not that appealing. Well I am here to tell you: don’t fret, re-direct! By simply re-directing the light on your flash, you can improve the look of your Christmas photographs with ease, and while the sample photographs are of objects, the same techniques apply to avoid harsh shadows and blown out colors for portraits as well. Take a look at the difference. The photograph shown above was taken with the flash pointed directly at the objects:
While the following image:
Was taken with the flash RE-DIRECTED towards the ceiling as shown here:
Here are the two side-by-side again so you can see the comparison:
By simply taking your flash and re-directing the light to bounce off other areas in the room rather than pointing it directly at your subject, you can greatly reduce the problems common with flash photography while still capturing enough light for a proper exposure! Don’t have a dedicated flash such as the one shown on the sample camera? Not a problem! I came across a scenario once where I was asked to photograph a birthday party for a friend. Not knowing I would be asked until I had already arrived at the party, I did not have my camera with me and was asked to use the family’s camera which came equip with only the built-in flash. I was forced to improvise, so I placed my free hand in front of the built-in flash (like a human reflector) and used my hand to bounce to flash upwards. This way, I was able to get more light on my subjects without pointing it directly at them which would have caused less-than-desirable outcomes common with flash photography. So just remember, if you are getting those yucky photos this Christmas while taking pictures with your flash, don’t fret and re-direct!
About the author: Joshua Drazil is a native of Elk Grove, living in the city for over 29 years. He is married to the woman of his dreams and the father of a beautiful 2-year-old little boy (with another baby on the way!). Josh has a passion for photography and enjoys finding new and exciting places to shoot. You can see his portfolio of which he is constantly updating at http://www.lizardlensphotography.wordpress.com or join other passionate photographers in the area on his Facebook page Lizard Lens Photography.