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Flash is your friend

Created date

August 25th, 2014
woman holding Senior Olympic medal
woman holding Senior Olympic medal

Have you ever used your camera’s flash out of doors? Flash provides a boost of light when there is insufficient light on the main subject. It also evens out the harsh contrast of highlights and shadows caused by sunlight. But your flash won’t go off in bright light if it’s set to the “auto” flash position. Here’s how to set it so that it’s always on.

There is a lightning bolt icon near your camera’s control selector that indicates where you can change flash settings. Press the control selector until the on position is visible on the LCD screen. In this setting, your camera will flash every time the shutter is pressed.  


Here are a few times you will benefit from using flash outdoors:

When taking a portrait of two friends and the sun is over their shoulders or off to the side, their faces would be deeply shadowed. The camera will set the exposure for the brighter parts of the scene, generally the background. If your flash control is in the “on” position, it will flash and provide sufficient light to balance the heavy backlight of the sun and even out the overall lighting of the scene. 

When the sun is over your shoulder, use your flash to lighten the shadows under the subject’s eyes, or wherever shadows lurk, to give you a more even exposure. This is called “fill-flash.”  

When your subjects are in the shade, light from the camera’s flash will add illumination on them. This will balance the exposure with the remainder of the scene that is in direct sunlight.  

In daylight, your flash will be effective from 6 to 10 feet (this distance will vary with different cameras). Beyond that distance, the light from the flash will fade and be of little value. By the way, you won’t need red-eye prevention outdoors; the ambient light is bright enough to close your subject’s iris.

Flash is also useful at sunrise and sunset when people or objects are in the foreground (you might need red-eye prevention in this case). At these times of the day, flash can provide light beyond its normal range. Of course, if you’re going for a silhouette, don’t use the flash.     

Flash is your friend.  Learn how to turn it on for better photos outdoors.