31 Days: Day 12

We've talked a lot about light in the past 11 days, and today I would like to touch on a kind of light I haven't addressed - flash. That is, flash from your camera. While flash does add a ton of light to a space, it also tends to make a picture look flat and can add a lot of glare.

For example...
No Flash


While the general brightness isn't as good in the non-flash picture, it's something you can fix with simple photo editing software. The glare from the flash picture is a much bigger problem.

When do you use flash then? Well, the strange but true answer is when there is natural light (something I learned from this great article). Flash can be a great tool to balance out shadows in natural light! Go figure!

Without Flash

With Flash

Boy, wasn't I thrilled to learn this trick!! You still have to be careful of harsh shadows like the one behind my lamp. I just cropped this picture to cut out the bad shadows :)

(Excuse my crooked scrabble letters - I forgot to fix them - more on that later)

Avoiding those shadows will take a little trial and error, but generally - being farther away is better. One of the first pictures I took with the flash was this one...

I was too close so the shadows are super harsh behind the lamp and shelves... not ideal. Also, reflective surfaces will pick up the bright glare of the flash so watch out for that too.

So what do you do if your flash goes off automatically and you don't want it? Well, often cameras have a setting to override auto-flash - definitely turn the flash off if you can. If you can't, try putting a piece of tape over the flash. Blue painter's tape is thick enough to block the light, but won't leave residue on your camera.

You can make your flash your friend, but it takes some equipment and that equipment is often very expensive. Photojojo has a great DIY solution:

Just cut up a film canister and pop it on! The film canister will diffuse your flash making it less harsh and more handy.

Before                                                                After
(photos from Photojojo)

This is definitely something I'm going to try!!

So there you have it. Flash, that unwelcome friend who always seems to make things harder, but there's something about them that makes things so right too. I know... a stretch...

Snapshot Sunday is approaching fast. Try out your new flash skills and send me your pictures! Sharing is fun :)


  1. Now this is interesting, you shot your picture looking toward the window. I always thought that the window (natural light) should be at your back? Is this old information?

  2. Nope, it's totally good information. Shooting with the light at your back is MUCH better than facing the light. But, a little flash can help with the shadows facing the light creates if you end up having to face the light.

  3. LOVE the film canister idea. Brilliant. Definitely going to use that for some of my photos.