Jan Hudson’s Photography Tip #7 - Question About Shadows

Image635083839110102144Our continuing Self-Help Series on Professional Photography Results from the Do-It-Yourself method with Jan Hudson answers some of your questions!

Hi! Welcome to Blog 7. For the next few weeks, I am going to answer some of the questions that I've received from readers. This week's question comes from Andy.

"I have tried taking pictures of my friend's band and some pictures of each of the guys and I'm using the pop up flash that's on my camera. I keep getting bad shadows on the wall behind them. Is there anything that I can do to stop that?"

Well, Andy, this is a problem that is common with an on-camera pop-up flash. Not only do they cause hard shadows, Image635083840834560777they are also the culprit in all of those "red eye" pictures that make people look like a red eyed beast. There are a couple of things that you can try to help the situation.

1. Don't photograph your subject against a light colored wall because the shadows are very noticeable. A darker wall will absorb many of the shadows that would normally be quite obvious on lighter walls. (see image against wall with hard shadow)

Image6350838416597079732. Try to shoot with your subject at least 10-12 feet away from the nearest wall. By doing this, the flash will fall away and end up down and behind the subject and will not give you hard shadows like you will get when the wall is within 2 feet of the subject. Unless the wall behind you adds something to your photo, try to find a blank wall, otherwise your photo will look cluttered up like the sample here. (see image taken in house)

3. Because on-camera flash is very flat and not very complimentary to your subject, try to turn your subject's body and have them turn their head toward you or look at an object like their instrument. If you shoot them straight on, Image635083844175471866their features will look flattened and many times, overexposed. (too light)

4. If the band or individual are in front of a shiny background, such as a window or a mirrored wall, be sure to shoot your photo from an angle, so you will not get a flash back or reflection. Never stand directly in front of a mirror or window! (see shot of me shooting into a mirror)

5. The best thing that you can do to solve the problem of harsh shadows is to buy a diffuser that fits on your camera either in front of or around your pop up flash and Image635083847055096571diffuses the light so you don't get any shadows at all. It's a softer light and is a very complimentary light. You won't get hard shadows or flat light. They come in different styles and range in price from $6.00 to $15.00. A very inexpensive solution to the problem of unattractive flash. You will be amazed at how nice all of the photos that you take will turn out! I found several on Amazon.com and the prices are extremely reasonable. (see images of different flash diffusers.)

6. One other thing that you can do, depending on where you are taking your photos, is to use natural light from windows and use the pop up flash as a light fill in. This should help with the shadows and will give you a more natural looking photo.

I hope that this answered your question, Andy. Thanks! Next week we will answer a question from Rhonda, who was wondering about lenses.

See you next week and thanks for your input and interest.


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