As promised, today we are going to talk about using an external flash on your DSLR camera. Scroll to the end of this post for a FREE project outline about using your speedlight.

There are SO MANY resources on how to use a speedlight (or external) flash, so I am going to give you some quick tips for using your external flash when you are just starting out.

This post is going to focus on how to use a speedlight as it sits on the top of your camera. NOT mounted on a side stand. 

This week try to use your flash to direct the light in your image. We are going to BOUNCE the light from the different surfaces in your environment. Give these tips a try and explore using that speedlight!

(If you’re interested, this is the external flash being used for the images below.)

1. Straight on flash light. Just stick that speedlight on the top of your camera and shoot your brains out! This is a quick fix for you if you are in a place with little light, but it’s…well, not usually desired or flattering, especially for portrait photography. See how the light completely washes out all of the features of the face? We want to redistribute the light so that it is more appealing.

direct lightstraight on 

2. Bounced from the side. Depending on your ambient light (the light that exists in the room or area you are shooting pictures), a side light may be the answer to your problem. Take your picture next to a blank (and preferably) light colored wall. Turn your speedlight to the side and bounce the light off this wall and onto the subject. It will brighten up some of the shadows which would be present without the flash, but not completely wash the subject out (as would happen on the straight on flash light).

side lightfrom side 

3. Bounced light from above. If you have a light colored ceiling, you can tilt your speedlight upward and bounce that light off the ceiling. This could be helpful if you have ample light coming from the sides and need a bit more coming from above. If you have a bounce card (which is built in to many newer models including the one I use) you may want to pull it up to pull more light forward toward your subject.

abovefrom ceiling 

REMEMBER: You can increase or decrease the amount of light coming from your speedlight (with most models) so keep that in mind as you shoot.

If you’d like a project outline for external flash photography, click below! (Note that you will be added to my email list. No spamming, I promise!)

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