Outdoor flash

Summer is still here, so I think it might be a good time to repeat a couple of flash tips for the summer. Especially as I plan to disappear into the sun for a week, Friday.

Outdoors you often need flash. Sunlight is harsh: so you need to fill in the shadows.

Outdoors you need max power. So keep your speed below the synch speed – 1/250th second on my 1Ds camera. Else you need to use high-speed flash, which loses power. Which you can ill afford on those sunny days.

Outdoors you can use direct flash, aimed at your subject. It is better to have studios and umbrellas and such – but outdoors you do not have that luxury, and you do not want to lose light.

So use a direct flash, and really, it can look very good. Especially if you take the flash intensity down a little (that’s what we call “fill flash” – 1-2 stops below ambient).

For a recent example of fill flash, see this image I shot at Minister Takhar’s Golf Open the other day.

Golfers (Photo: Michael Willems)

Not high art – but you can see the faces, and they are not half black. And often, that is all we want from a picture.


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