Photographic Innoventions: Adding Light to the Sun

Earlier, I showed how the use of software can add light to a badly underexposed photo. What if I told you there was a way to do the same thing using your camera and not having to do any post-processing in software. Would that be worth something to ya?

Looking at the photo below taken at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, you can see that the background and sky are nicely exposed but the subject is in shadow because of the angle fo the sun in relation to the photographer.

Scottwdw (yep, that’s me) at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort © Scott Thomas Photography 2005
Nikon Coolpix 995, 1/250s, f/6.0, 100 ISO, 0 EV

After looking at the image in the camera’s LCD, I instructed the photographer (my daughter) to use the camera’s flash to fill in the shadows. The result you can view below.

Scottwdw (me, again) at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort © Scott Thomas Photography 2005
Nikon Coolpix 995, 1/60s, f/6.0, 100 ISO, 0 EV, Flash Used

This technique is called Fill Flash as it fills in shadow and dark areas of a scene with the use of an artificial light source. In this case, the builtin flash on the camera. In digital SLR and advanced Point & Shoot cameras, you may hear the term balanced fill flash as the camera will calculate the amount of flash needed using the amount of light detected by it’s light meter. You don’t want the flash to overpower the available light but to add just enough to bring out darkened areas like in this example.

Further Reading: While this article talks specifically about Canon equipment, other manufacturer’s cameras work in a simliar fashion. Fill-in flash use with EOS cameras and speedlites

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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