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Using a flash on your camera can be very useful. Most compact cameras though have a quite unsubtle flash, which does not change its behavior depending on the lighting conditions. With SLR cameras, things get better.

To give an idea of the way the flash changes the photograph you take, I've taken 3 shots of the same scene, only using different flashing setups.

The images were shot using a Canon EOS350D digital SLR camera using the built-in flash and the Canon 430EX flash unit. Just click on the images to get a bigger image.

No flash used. Although perhaps the lighting here is quite natural, not many details can be seen from the dark objects (the plant and the candle).
Internal flash. The internal flash clearly gives highlights on the front of objects, and also gives a rather ugly harsh shadow against the background (look at the shadow of the plant for example).
430EX flash bounce (completely up).

Although using the 430EX flash unit pointing straight at the scene gives about the same image as the previous example using the built-in flash, the pivoting 430EX enables you to rotate the flash to the ceiling.

The indirect lighting gives apparently the same amount of light as with the built-in flash, but notice how the highlights no longer point directly back to the camera. Also, the shadows are much softer now; you can barely see the shadow of the plant for example.

Overall, the lighting becomes softer.

Once you start photographing bigger things, you may want to look into external flash unit, slave flash lights and such.

An excellent and very verbose article on flash photography using Canon equipment can be found at: (click to follow the link).



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