Every photographer knows that a camera has its own lighting source in the form of flash. There are moments when it comes handy and moments when you just want to keep it turned off. Still, the flash is always there for you. The most common mistake related to the use of flash is using it only when shooting indoors or at night. Flash can be very helpful in all kinds of lighting conditions. You just have to use it right. Discover the use of flash in manual mode!
TTL mode and manual mode
Most digital cameras have a built-in flash. It can be triggered automatically, in what is called TTL mode (“Through The Lens”), or manually. TTL mode means you let the camera decide the power of the flash based on exposure settings. Actually, in TTL mode, the power of the flash is influenced only by the reflected light coming from the subject and by shutter speed. Distance to the subject, ISO, and aperture settings will not influence the flash. This can work fine in many situations, but, sometimes, you’ll want something else from your camera.
Using the flash in manual mode means that you have to choose the power of the flash manually. For the majority of the digital camera, the options lay between full power and 1/32 of the full power. When shooting with manual flash, there is no connection between exposure settings and flash power. You’ll have to work it out by yourself. This is not easy, but it is a good practice.
Why use the flash in manual mode
Well, curiosity is a good answer. But if you need more reasons to work harder with your camera, here are a few. First, think of all those ruined pictures where natural light came from behind your subject. You had a beautiful background and a dark face as a souvenir. This was a good moment to use the flash. But if you let the camera decide the power of the flash, based on light reflected from your dark subject, you’ll get a perfect lighted subject and a black background. Not perfect, isn’t it?
Now think of those sunny days, when a light came powerfully from left or right, lighting your subject asymmetrical. You really wanted to correct this, but your camera received enough light from the subject and decided to use the flash with low power. Using the flash in manual mode would let you choose exactly what was needed.
After sunny days come cloudy days. Overcast days are great for photo sessions outdoors, but not so much of a shadow fan. If you want to replace sunshine, use the flash. But not in TTL mode (where the camera will probably decide you have enough light), but in manual mode, where you have the possibility to choose the power of the flash that will best enhance the shadows.