Ask the Expert: Balancing flash output

 

It happens sometimes that while using flash the subject gets blown out and the background becomes dark. How do I ensure that the flash does not overpower the ambient lighting?
Chandni Bose, Kolkata, via email

This article was originally published in October 2011.

The use of Slow Sync flash helped retain the ambient light of the café, despite the use of flash. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The use of Slow Sync flash helped retain the ambient light of the café, despite the use of flash. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The use of flash in the default auto mode tends to give a harsh burst of light that kills any ambient light that may be there. The subject often gets blown out, and the white light overpowers any coloured or mixed lighting in the scene. To overcome this problem, you can do the following. Use a Flash Exposure Compensation of – 1EV or more. You can also diffuse the flash by covering it with tissue or butter paper. Also, ensure that your subject is not standing too close to the camera. For capturing ambient light, you can set the flash’s mode to Slow Sync. In this mode, the camera chooses a slower shutterspeed, while fi ring the fl ash. The slow shutterspeed captures the ambient light in the background, while the burst of flash freezes the main subject. If you have a compact camera that does not allow you much control, you can use the Night Portrait scene mode as it produces a similar effect. Alternatively, if you wish to freeze any quick background movement as well, boost the ISO.

Tags: ambient light, default auto mode, flash exposure compensation, Flash Ouput, Question of the Day