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How often do you use fill flash?

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For outdoor or indoor editorial images, how often do you use flash? Is it always if it benefits an image? never? only to fill when people are in the image? I think I would really benefit from this as it often make the images pop, and now thinking if I should invest.

If you do use it for editorial content, what is your preferred technique?


Thank you.

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Now and again. It can lift an image taken in dull conditions. I'll often try both ways and decide later, or not. But not often for people- I don''t photograph them much. Drinks and food, mostly, probably.

Here's one with/without. They both have their place, I think. The Daily Telegraph would go for the first one, CAMRA for the second. It's the pop-up flash on the A58, set to fill mode with power reduced.


Or this one, taken in open shade. Mmm griebenschmalz.



Edited by spacecadet
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It really depends on the environment. If photographing say food at home will often use fill and bounce from Canon 580; also have a collection of desk lamps with daylight bulbs for still lifes. Outside, if not a press event, I generally don't want to bring attention to myself so will rely on the latitude of the sensor for post processing. Very rarely use my studio lights these days. Will occasionally use a pop up camera flash if necessary. When I used to shoot weddings etc. fill flash was used alot more but don't do social stuff now.

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I'm thinking people here and any image could be editorial so I am talking generally. As Joe says, flash draws attention and makes people self-conscious. It is also easy to overdo it where the subject looks like a cutout. A reflector can look a lot more natural as the colour of the fill and ambient light should be the same.  However, I find that the radial filter in Lightroom/ACR can work magic on adding light back into shadowy faces if shooting backlit. This allows me to avoid using fill flash in a lot of cases and is very quick in post-processing even sometimes on multiple images. I have become quite adept with this in fact. However, it doesn't add catchlights in the eyes which would mean a Photoshop job so ok for one or two pics but not for a big batch if catchlights are important.

Edited by MDM
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4 hours ago, JeffGreenberg said:


Except when it might disturb.

Bought $1.99 pop-up flash diffuser like this for RX10-IV;

Then clipped partial Styrofoam cup in front to eliminate (always-on lens hood) shadow:

(yes, flash intensity reduced, but...)


(taken quickly with smartphone camera)




Jeff thank you for an amazing insight. I admire your portfolio (who doesnt) but i noticed there is a large portion of your images which i would be uncomfortable taking. People doing things, looking into the camera, clearly aware of you taking pictures. How do you do this? Do you talk to them before and explain that you will be taking images and ask for permission? Or just shoot and deal with reactions as they come? What do you say if you get challanged? I imagine rarely who would react positively to knowing these will become stock images... Any tips welcomed ;)

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I can do what Mark did with his beer and fill flash by using the V2 tool in the Nik collection. It's very quick, and I'd rather do that than carry the extra gear. Back in the day with film, I used fill flash, bounce flash, diffused flash, and when needed a 4-head setup with strobes and umbrellas on two heads. I see no need for this with digital. I do it all in PP.


Jeff, my guess is that by using more pro-looking gizmos you make your subjects feel that you are doing something more important than having them pose for yet another snapshot.



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