3 Quick Tips for Using a Flash
1. Use External Flashes
If you need to use a flash, use an external flash whenever possible. Most issues and flatness of a bad flash stem from the flash being at the exact same angle and source as the lens itself. Remember that much of the depth we see in photographs is from contrast and shadows.
A flash can be a great way to ensure there's enough light for the detail you want to capture; but it can be an equally quick way to blow out a photo beyond recovery. Be sure to know what you're after before pulling your external flash out of your kit.
2. Diffuse the Light
More often than not, light is pretty harsh. Especially considering the average flash is around 5k-7k kelvin -- not terribly flattering. Using a diffuser, or bouncing the flash or ambient light off a reflector before it reaches the subject can have spectacular results.
If you're not familiar with kelvin, don't worry, it's easy to get the hang of. The lower the number (kelvin) the warmer the light. The higher the number, the cooler the light. Most of our household light bulbs (incandescent) are around 2700 kelvin. Hospitals or dentist offices might use something along 4000 - 5000 kelvin, to ensure a nice crisp light. However, beyond 5000 kelvin, the light begins to appear blueish.
With that said, while there are certainly plenty of times a flash can come in handy, if it's not first diffused, you're likely in for some extra work in Lightroom. And there's still no guarantee that the image can be saved with edits. Flash can be great, but be sure to know what type of look and feel you're after with your photograph before using one.
3. Know When it's Appropriate
Although using a flash indoors or in dim areas may be obvious, the flash, especially external, can be an invaluable tool on sunnier days as well. Often our subjects can become silhouettes during a bright day with the sun to their back. Knowing when and how to use a flash in these scenarios can make all the difference.
A flash, preferably an external one, can be a great way to help capture the detail or mood you want in your photo; be it indoors or outside. Be careful to avoid blowing out or flattening your photos by removing too much shadow.