View Full Version : Fill Flash Questions
02-05-2008, 09:18 AM
Okay, I know everyone is sick of looking at my kid, but everyone I know's been sick all winter and I haven't been able to borrow new kids. Bear with me - spring is coming. He's sick of having his picture taken too.
Anyway - could someone explain fill flash to me? I always just assumed it was a simple process, but I'm guessing it's not. I took these pictures. They were taken within seconds of each other in a shaded location (Western side of a building at late morning). I used my pop-up flash (didn't bring the SB600 & lightsphere because I was actually shooting for Robin's class - no flash there) and I didn't have the diffuser for the pop up (same reasoning).
I like the look /exposure of this first one, but I need to get his eyes clearer. The second with the "fill flash" is really washed out and harsh but you get the blue of his eyes (but still, washed out).
Assuming I'm using a real flash, not the pop-up, would I set it at a lower power? Do I aim directly at my subject? Would I use it in this situation or is the original fine?
Any hints would be great. Here are the pictures.
The one I like, no fill:
02-05-2008, 09:28 AM
Deirdre, first of all I dont think anyone is tired of your photos, so keep them coming !!!
I am in your same boat about the fill flash. My goal is to get the eyes properly lit and not washed out, I am able to achieve my goal sometimes.
I'm sure the experts here will come very soon to help you out. In the meantime you might find this link useful:
Also take a good look at this one:
Good luck :)
02-05-2008, 10:21 AM
I can just tell you about my Canon cameras and presume it's a similar situation with your Nikon. On the top of my camera is a flash compensation button. I press that and roll a dial (that usually has other functions) to increase or decrease the amount of flash I have relative to the available light exposure. You might check your camera manual. It's a handy feature! Naturally, keeping a close eye on your camera's histogram will prevent your overexposing the bright areas.
02-05-2008, 11:55 AM
It looks like you really didn't need fill in this instance. I'm no expert at fill flash, but generally it's most helpful in a back lit situation. Any time you would end up with a dark subject and a bright background is a good candidate. If your lighting is rather even to begin with, there really isn't anything to "fill". If it's dark overall, then you use flash to give you the light that you need. Using aperture priority mode also seems to work well for fill. Depending on the camera settings the flash will try to match the ambient light in the background. On Canon cameras there is a custom setting to either use the default flash sync speed or the metered exposure when in Av. Of course there is always the fun of playing with the settings to see what you like the best.
02-05-2008, 12:25 PM
I agree with Craig about it not being needed in this situation (shown). I never use fill flash for a portrait, preferring softer light, as you have here (look at how soft his shadow is on the door!). When shooting candids, however, my subjects may be in harsh sunlight (backlit or not) or, worse yet, dappled light, so I need to compensate for the poor light by adding some of my own from on-camera.
02-05-2008, 05:16 PM
Thank you, Jose-Luis, Bruce, and Craig.
Those links were helpful.
I wasn't sure if it was really necessary in that shot, but with his deep-set eyes I wasn't sure.
Bruce, I do love the soft shadow on the door there. That's probably my favorite thing about that photo - my little monkey excepted.
I'm glad no one's sick of seeing the kid.
02-07-2008, 01:29 AM
Well I guess Deidre wanted to do the same I always try. Even if the day is very bright, I always use a tiny bit of flash just for the catchlights, to make the eyes vivid. I like the eyes in the 2nd photo better than in the first one, however the first photo looks better because it does not have the harsh flash.
Maybe a reflector would be useful too, but, without one, the flash used at low power may do the trick.
What are you opinions on this?
02-07-2008, 08:32 AM
Reflectors pointed towards a subject's eyes will usually cause them to squint. Yes, I'll sometimes use a reflector if it has to be a sunlit scene (open shade is my preferred light), but I try to position it and my subject so it's not pointed directly into my subject's eyes.
I'm going to be doing some vineyard portraits of our winemakers some time soon and if it's a sunny day I'll use flash fill, but I'm going to try to arrange the timing so there's still some haze in the air (in the morning) providing soft, natural light.
02-07-2008, 08:40 AM
I find fill-flash works best when the subject is backlit directly by the sun. That was not the case here. Which is why your first image turned out better than no.2, like Craig said.
02-18-2008, 05:28 AM
Fill in flash is used in backlit or very sunny situations. In a sunny shoot the subject may have dark shadows under the nose, eyes, chin etc and fillin flash allows you to light those areas. A one to one flash to sunlight ratio would produce a flat image where all the face is lit equally, by keeping your flash a stop or so under the metered light level would allow you to light the dark areas but still maintain some level of shadow to keep an interesting image
hope that helps
02-18-2008, 06:27 AM
Thanks everyone. I appreciate all the pointers. I guess I had the wrong idea about fill flash. ANd since I haven't seen sun but twice in the past 3 weeks, I won't have time to practice! :)
02-18-2008, 10:09 AM
I almost always use my demb diffuser pro, for indoor shots and outdoor fill flash. I find that the diffused, non-direct light gives a more natural look without the harsh shadows. If I don't use the demb, then I'm bouncing the flash, if possible.
The only time that I use undiffused, dirct flash is when I'm shooting martial arts tournaments and I need to get the maximum distance out of the SB-600.
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