Daylight Fill Flash
Daylight Fill Flash
Photos by Allen Birnbach, DPA Instructor Denver, CO
A very useful, and greatly utilized technique for professional location photographers is Daylight Fill Flash. This technique supposes there is ample light to photograph a scene, as one would expect when shooting in bright sunlight, but goes one step further by adding just the right amount of Fill Flash where it’s needed, primarily to brighten up the shadows. Looking at the photos above, shot by Denver DPA Instructor, Allen Birnbach, you can see before and after image samples of this technique. The left photo is shot using ambient light only. The right photo is the same exposure (same camera settings, shutter speed, aperture and ISO) but with the addition of flash into the photo. Using a large light source, a softbox with a powerful off-camera flash unit, Allen has added enough light to brighten up the dark shadowy areas and make the photo more legible, in addition to altering the mood of the photograph. Notice how the light on the jogger is much brighter, more even and the very dark, contrasty shadows on her face, arms and legs have been eliminated. Look also at the large rocks behind her, they too are brighter and look less ominous and weighty. Overall a brighter, softer, more pleasing image, just by popping in a bit of supplemental flash. You don’t always need a large flash unit to take advantage of this technique, you can get a similar result using an external on-camera flash mounted on your camera hotshoe. The trick to achieving success is to get the balance right between the ambient light and the flash. Too much flash and the shot looks contrived, too little and you don’t achieve the soft shadows you desire. It sometimes takes a little trial and error but you just walk in the exposure using the screen on the back of your camera, adjusting the flash output to the desired level.
Photo by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor, Boston, MA
The same technique is incorporated here by Frank Siteman, a DPA Instructor in Boston. Frank has positioned his subject with his back to the sun. You can just see the sun sneaking into frame in the upper right corner of the shot. In most circumstances this would result in a blacked out subject, with the young mans face in deep shadow, if not totally in silhouette. Frank has added Daylight Fill Flash coming in from the camera position to brighten up the subject rendering the dark areas legible. By very accurately balancing the light output of his flash with the surrounding daylight. and most importantly with the light hitting the background of the scene, Frank has achieved very natural looking lighting in an impossible situation. This technique allows the photographer to control the relative darkness or brightness of the background, which enables you to achieve a shot with darker richer colors in the background, especially in the sky resulting in a more interesting and dramatic photograph.
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