(If you’re reading, “Falcon,” then click here for Part Eight)
I’ve heard it said that how-to’s are good subject matter for blogs. Welcome to my first.
Here we have two pictures of our boy, Benjamin. The difference between them? It’s not different cameras, different lenses, or different settings. It isn’t some in-camera red-eye correction feature.
It’s all about the angles.
In the first shot, I used the built-in, pop-up flash mounted directly above the lens. We get the dreaded red-eye and washed-out skin tones, as well as the appearance of two different shades of hair color. Notice, too, the harsh black shadow that forms a line directly underneath his chin and cheek, and his arm. Although not optimal, built-in flash has saved me more than once when I just didn’t want to lug around my external flash.
In the comfort of my own home, however, I can photo geek all I want. That’s where the second shot comes in. I put on my external flash for that one. The light still comes from the center of the camera, but I angle the flash straight up at the ceiling, and attach a white card on the back to bounce some soft light directly into Ben’s face.
The light bouncing from the ceiling gives it a skylight effect, for a more realistic representation of his hair. The light bounced into his face keeps the light bounced from overhead from making huge shadow-bags under his eyes, as well as making his eye color pop out. The height of the flash prevents the red-eye. Also improved are the shadows under his face and his arm.
Admittedly, the top picture is a bit over-exposed, and direct flash can look a little better than that example. However, it’s still obvious that there’s an advantage to using external flash when you can. There’s a softer overall impression of the photo.
Above is the setup I used to produce the second photo. You’d be surprised how many photojournalists shoot with an index card attached via rubber band. That is a better option, by the way, than the page-a-day calendar sheet I used. It looks ugly, but it gets the job done. Kind of like my car (except that it’s just barely getting the job done right now).
You don’t have to buy a digital SLR camera to get a flash hotshoe mount. Many of the point-and-shoot digitals allow similar attachment of a light source.
Then, here’s the actual Pic of the Week, a shot of Ben while saying “cheese” of his own volition. Or maybe the macaroni and cheese influenced him.
For more photo tips, see “Depth of Field How-to,” the next in my sporadic how-to series.