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Question:  I have a flash on my camera... Why would I need anything else?

Answer:  The flash that is built in to most cameras today are fine for quick snapshots from 3 to about 10 feet away.  This built in flash gives good (not great) results. 

Question:  What if I want my picture to look better than a snapshot? 
Answer:  Use more than one light and soften the main light with an umbrella.  When you bounce light into an umbrella the quality of light that falls on your subject is much softer, which is much more flattering.  You can use another flash to light up the background and/or the hair or your subject.  The pictures below will illustrate what I'm talking about.

click to enlarge
Figure 1.
On camera flash
click to enlarge

Figure 2.
Two flashes
Figure 1. isn't bad... It's just that it could be a lot better.  See the difference in figure 2... The light is much softer and the picture has of more depth.  I like to keep thing simple, so I used two external slave flashes and an umbrella.  Set up for this shot only took about 5 minutes.  I could have made it more complicated with more lights and umbrellas, but I'm too lazy for that.  One flash (the main light) was bounced into an umbrella, set up about a foot or two above the camera. The other flash (the hair light) was set up behind and to the slightly to the side of the subject.  Since I wanted to use the on-camera flash to trigger the other flashes, but I didn't want the light from the on-camera flash to illuminate the subject, I taped a small piece of white cardboard on the camera (in front of the flash) at a 45 degree angle.  This shaded the the subject from the on-camera flash, but it still triggered the slave flashes. 
Photo Lighting

Equipment used:

Camera: Fuji Digital S602Z  - This will work with just about any camera (digital or film) as long as it has an on-camera flash or a camera with a way the connect an external flash.  (If your camera has red eye reduction, be sure to turn it off.) 

Lights:  Smith Victor 3-light Umbrella Slave Flash Kit KF-3U -  I only used two of the lights and one of the umbrellas that come in the kit.  You can use any other lights you want (flash or photoflood).  If  you use photoflood lighting. just be sure to set your "white balance" on your digital camera to the proper setting - or use color correction filters with a film camera. 

Please direct any questions about this article to me, Bruce Gibson at:

© 2008 - Bruce Gibson maintains
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