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Chapter 12. Making Light Work for You > Electronic Flash Basics

Electronic Flash Basics

Until you delve into the situation deeply enough, it might appear that serious photographers have a love/hate relationship with electronic flash. You’ll often hear that flash photography is less natural looking, and that the built-in flash in most cameras should never be used as the primary source of illumination because it provides a harsh, garish look. Indeed, most “pro” cameras like the Nikon D3/D3x don’t have a built-in flash at all. Available (“continuous”) lighting is praised, and built-in flash photography seems to be roundly denounced.

In truth, however, the bias is against bad flash photography. Indeed, flash has become the studio light source of choice for pro photographers, because it’s more intense (and its intensity can be varied to order by the photographer), freezes action, frees you from using a tripod (unless you want to use one to lock down a composition), and has a snappy, consistent light quality that matches daylight. (While color balance changes as the flash duration shortens, some Nikon flash units can communicate to the camera the exact white balance provided for that shot.) And even pros will cede that the built-in flash of the Nikon D5100 has some important uses as an adjunct to existing light, particularly to illuminate dark shadows using a technique called fill flash.


  

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