A short course in Photography cont...
The one bit of automation that we had not discussed yet is the auto flash. Regrettably the auto flash has been the doom of most home indoor photography.
Remember I said photography is capturing light. When the electronic flash comes on it floods out all the natural light. The camera then captures the artificially
produced light. Even the light produce by a lamp is understood to be part of our normal indoor environment. But the auto flash will normally result in a
washed out subject with the rest of the room looking dark. When using the built in flash we will find the subject to be flatten, no natural features or natural
shadows. The subject becomes bland and uninteresting in the photograph.
Why? The electronic flash comes at the subject head on, like car lights at night, with that in your face and right back
at you result. Even if the flash exposure by some chance came out well, your subject may look stressed or caught
off guard by the whole ordeal. You see, the AE (auto exposure ) will be set for the overwhelming amount of light
that will occur a few feet in front of the lens. Everything else will be in the dark because of flash fall off. The flash is
prevalent for only a few feet and then diminishes rapidly beyond 10 feet from the lens. If you take a flash picture at
your child's School Play and the stage is more than ten feet away the flash will never make it there.
What can be done? Without the flash, the AE will capture the available light if possible. This is your best chance to
capture a photo with a natural feel. The trick is to do what they did back in the days before electronic flash. Move your subject by a window if possible and turn the flash off.
Use high-speed film, 400 or 800 ISO. You don't need 400 speed film if you're going to use
your flash. Well you could of course. I mostly use 400 films in my point-and-shoot camera.
A good auto camera will allow you to lock the flash off or on. The flash has value when lock
on because the AE will expose for available light and still fire the flash. This may be the only alternative in low light situations. But at
least your thinking about exposure and have an idea of how your picture will come out. Practice using different speed film without the flash and get to know what your camera can do.