According to DoD Instruction 5040.02, Visual Information (VI), documentation is defined as “Imagery depicting actual events, activities, phenomena, places, or people, recorded primarily to create a record of the subject matter.” These events often take place in conditions where lighting can be a challenge. Understanding how to use flash properly and practicing proper flash techniques can help you accurately capture dynamic photos in just about any lighting situation. For the photographer on the move, one of the best options is the hot-shoe flash.
There are several techniques you can use with a hot-shoe flash. Learning how and when to use each one will help you get the best lighting for every image.
Explore the following techniques for using a hot-shoe flash to shoot flash photography.
produces the most powerful light, but it can wash out the subject and produce harsh shadows. The flash unit is pointed directly at the subject. This is usually the least-preferred technique but may be necessary for some situations where you need powerful, direct light.
is a technique that requires you to place a diffuser over the flash head to soften the light. A diffuser works by scattering the light, making it look more natural and softening shadows. Use diffused flash anytime you want soft, natural-looking light, indoors or out.
is a technique where light is bounced off another object—usually a wall or ceiling—and onto your subject. This technique is often the most desired flash technique because it produces the most natural-looking lighting. Use bounce flash anytime you need to change the direction of the light to produce more natural results. This technique is good for portraits, but because you must have a neutral surface nearby to bounce off, it isn’t often an option outside.
is a technique used to fill in shadows while shooting outdoors or to expose back lit subjects properly. Use outdoors when you need to fill in shadows, such as when a person is wearing a hat and the brim is casting a shadow over their face; or if the subject is standing in a shadow, but the background is in direct sunlight or other situations with high contrast. Use indoors when the subject is standing in front of—and back lit by—a window or open door. Indoor use of fill flash is not limited to inside of a building - it can also be used in a car, airplane, helicopter, etc.