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Anne Ruthmann, New England Occupation: Photographer Website: Anne Ruthmann Photography About Me: Things that make me happy: old people getting crazy on the dance floor, world travel, hello hugs & goodbye kisses, cultural celebrations, acoustic live music, indie handmade crafts, cinema, environmental protection, diversity, the sound of nature, authenticity, white water rafting, discovering artists, photographing people in love. Things that bore me: bland food, celebrity gossip, negativity, fake anything, waiting in lines, egotism.
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From Anne’s intern Alexis

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my speedlight. I’ll use it if I have to, but most of the time I’ll go to extreme lengths to avoid pulling it out of my camera bag. Probably 90% of the time it makes a better paperweight than it does a piece of camera equipment.

Anne showed me a nifty trick last week that will tip the scales more toward the “love” part of the equation. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll post a few by way of demonstration. You definitely have to see it to appreciate it (that, plus the fact that I don’t really feel like writing a 3,000 word blog entry. I’m sure you appreciate THAT, too.

Just to preface this, I was shooting at f/4.5 at 1/50s (manual mode). My speedlight was set to E-TTL, with no light modifiers on it.

Exhibit A: Neo (yes, named after the Matrix) relaxing on an unseasonably warm spring evening. The flash is on-camera, pointed straight at him. The verdict? EW. Ew ew ew. Nasty shadows, cold, harsh light…just…ick. We can do better.

puppy flash1

Exhibit B: Neo, looking much healthier than before. The flash is still on camera, but is now pointed straight up at the (white) ceiling. Ah, my optic nerves can relax a little bit. This is MUCH better than what we had before. The shadows have softened, and the light is much warmer and more flattering. Well…as flattering as it can be to a stuffed dog. I’m not such a fan of the shadow under his chin, though…that wouldn’t look good on a person either. You can imagine that you would get the same kind of shadows under a person’s eyes, since the ceiling has essentially become your light source. I think most people are tired enough as it is without us accentuating that lovely raccoon-eye look.

puppy flash2

Exhibit C: Success! Here’s where Anne’s trick comes in: the flash is still on-camera, and I’m still bouncing the light, but I’ve pointed it behind me and over my shoulder. There is a white wall about 7 feet behind me, and now that is pretty much acting as a giant softbox. Look at that light! Soft, even, no harsh shadows…extremely flattering. If anything, this might be a little TOO even, but that is much easier to correct in post processing than super contrasty light and terrible under-eye shadows.

puppy flash3

So, there you have it! And remember: fear not the flash, grasshopper. At least, that’s what Anne tells me.

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8 Responses to “On-Camera Flash: Intern Edition”

1.
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michele

Great post, thanks for the flash tip!

 
2.
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Vanessa

I love my speedlight, and Anne did give some good tips. The only thing with pointing the flash behind you is that it isnt always possible when photographing events. You don’t want to blind the people standing behind you!

And Neo is too cute, he looks super soft :)

 
3.
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Anne Ruthmann

I’m lucky to be taller than a lot of people, so it’s rare that I blind anyone with my flash… unless they’re 6′8″ and standing right behind me looking over my shoulder… in which case, it would serve as a pretty good warning signal to back up. HA! ;-)

 
4.
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Mrs. Avocado

I LOVED this post! I’m wanting to try it out myself.

 
5.
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Vanessa

@Anne Ruthmann: haha.. thats pretty funny! I’m tall too (6ft & 1/2 inch) I hadn’t thought that the flash might just end up going over their head.

 
6.
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tangt16

Well, I don’t really understand how you did what you did. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by bouncing the light, behind you, over the shoulder, or pointing up at the ceiling since the shot looks like the same angle just a lot clearer and better. It sounds complicated. But I’m really really impressed by the difference. It looks great.

 
7.
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Alexis

Hi tangt16,

Instead of pointing the flash straight up at the ceiling, I twisted the head so it pointed behind me, over my left shoulder. This is not a pop-up flash that’s attached to the camera; it’s a separate speedlight that can be used on or off camera. Hope that clears things up!

 
8.
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Lillindy

Wow, what a difference! It makes me want to go out and buy a fancy schmancy camera.

 

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Anne @ Anne Ruthmann Photography Anne Ruthmann, New England Occupation: Photographer Website: Anne Ruthmann Photography About Me: Things that make me happy: old people getting crazy on the dance floor, world travel, hello hugs & goodbye kisses, cultural celebrations, acoustic live music, indie handmade crafts, cinema, environmental protection, diversity, the sound of nature, authenticity, white water rafting, discovering artists, photographing people in love. Things that bore me: bland food, celebrity gossip, negativity, fake anything, waiting in lines, egotism.
 
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