Make Flash Photography Your Friend

Christmas parties, Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve… This is time of year we need the flash on our cameras.
Photographer Jami Edman shows us how to avoid red eye and get the best results from our flash.

Usually you want to avoid using your flash. Using natural or ambient light will give you a much softer look in your pictures and help you avoid red eyes and washed-out faces.

But there are moments when you need use your flash, like Christmas parties and Christmas morning. It’s dark outside (no window light) and usually the lights are dim. With no flash, your pictures can look grainy and blurry as your camera tries to slow the shutter speed.

However there are things we can use to “diffuse” our flash and create a softer light.

Use your “night mode” or slow sync flash setting.
Most point and shoots or DSLRs have a setting for nighttime flash, this slows the shutter speed down to let in more ambient light in so you don’t get that bright “flashy” look. However if you are using this setting it is best to be using a tripod or you might end up with some blurry photos.

Tape a piece of white paper over your flash on your point and shoot.
Yes, even taping a piece of paper over your pop up flash will help diffuse the flash.

Try it and see the difference.

Try an inexpensive diffuser.
There are inexpensive products designed to go over your SLR flashes and make a HUGE difference in your pictures. You can find these at our local Pictureline store:
a. Gary Fong Puffer, 22.95, Pictureline
b. Lumniquest Soft Screen, 11.95, Pictureline

These are designed to diffuse the light from your flash so it is not as directional. It provides a pleasing warm light for your flash photos. It also minimizes those harsh shadows you get from your pop up flash. These are only for SLR cameras and slip into the hotshoe on top of your camera

Buy an external flash and bounce the light.
The great thing about an external flash ? It raises the flash above your subjects eyes, so less red eyes.
However the very best thing to do with an external flash is to get one that you can bounce off the ceiling or swivel and bounce off a wall behind you. This softens and diffuses the flash so it is not so harsh.
There are two different types of flash units: Canon or Nikon, Pictureline, $400-600

These allow you to bounce flash, but also control the output of the flash. So you can set at 1/2 power or 1/4 power if you don’t need a ton of light. There are also generic flash units (make sure it swivels and can bounce).
Vivitar Flash units,, $79-150

Want to learn more? Take my class! I am renewing my Black Friday special just for studio 5 viewers and giving away one free class. Visit for details.

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