Fill Flash

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by 19Monte78, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. 19Monte78

    19Monte78 Member

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    This topic has probably been covered before, but I couldn't find a thread pertaining to it.

    What is fill flash? What is it used for? I have a Canon EOS Rebel TI, can I use the built in flash to fill flash? I've heard there are adjustments on how to make the fill flash brighter and dimmer, can I do that as well, and how? What are the advantages.

    These are just a few questions I have about it. Sorry if they seem kind of amature, but that's kinda what I am :smile:.

    Thanks in advance...

    -Peter-
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    hi peter
    lets say you can set your camera to its proper ISO for a particular film
    then you go outside with your camera and flash
    you take a reading of lets say a person with the light from the sun hitting the subject at an angle
    you take a meter reading and find that the sunlight side of the face reads lets say f16 at 1/125 of a second

    If you set your flash so that it fires off f11 or f8 at 1/125 of a second at the subject.
    then you would be giving a fill flash,
    ie a flash that is not stronger than the main light (THE SUN) but slightly weaker . This flash will fill in the shawdow area of the subject.

    basically it is a way of controlling the LIGHTING RATIO of a scene like this
    Whole studio set-ups are based on lighting ratio and fill flash is an important consideration when taking a portrait.
    I hope this helps
     
  3. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Hi Peter,

    Very simply, fill flash is typically used when photographing a subject where the background is brightly lit and the main subject (typically a person, but not necessarily) is in shadow (or is shadowed relative to the background).

    Without the flash, you either expose for the main subject, which causes the background to be blown out (too bright and washed out). Or, you expose for the background, leaving the main subject too dark.

    With a flash unit, you can add light to the forground subject using the flash. Then you set your exposure to correctly capture the background, and use the flash to brighten the foreground subject. Many modern 35mm SLRs will handle all this for you for typical subjects if you just set the camera to fill flash mode.

    If your camera has a "fill flash" setting, just pop up the flash unit when you are shooting someone who is standing with bright light behind them. The result will make you look like a pro! Enjoy!

    Regarding how to set the Rebel T1, you'll have to read the manual. I've never used one... But if you don't have a manual, and can figure out how to set different flash levels, you might try bracketing your shots - taking the same shot at various flash levels, then pick the shot you like.

    -chuck
     
  4. 19Monte78

    19Monte78 Member

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    Thanks a lot, sorry that it took me so long to get back to this. My brother is useing my camera for his photography class so I haven't stopped by in a while.

    Thanks again,

    Peter
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I can contribute nothing worthwhile to the usage of the specific camera.

    I find that the most flexible method for fill flash is one of two methods both of which require the use of a flash meter. Both work best with a flash having a variable power but are adaptable to any manual flash that is highly repeatable. Luddite that I am, I alway prefer a manual system to an automatic system

    #1
    Use your flash meter to determine the distance for a single given aperture eg f5.6
    at 1, 2, 3 meters etc. mark these position on your power ratio device with a piece of masking tape.
    With your camera lens set to 5.6 at the appropriate shutter speed and wanting to have 1:1 fill just set the appropriate distance on your power ratio device. This will on the plane of the subject that is in shadow actually give a 1:2 ratio as compared to the portion receiving both natural and flash light. For all other distances the ratio would be <>1:2

    If you want to have your main light to be your flash set your camera lens to a wider aperture eg f 4 as the case may be. This will work much better with negative film than with transparency film If you are making a B&W negative you could also make your development decision here. As an alternate, set your power variatur at some further distance eg twice as far if you wanted a 1:4, in actuality 1:5 since the inverse squre law is, as always, in force.

    If you wanted the ambient light to be the main light than you have two choices:
    set you lens at a smaller stop than 5.6 eg 8 etc with the appropriate shutter speed and set the flash power varietur to the distance focussed upon.

    Or set your distance to a distance closer to what you are focussed at. With your lens set at 5.6 and at a distnace of two meters to your subject set your variatur to 1 meter. You will again get 1:4 or 1:5 ratio.

    #2
    Use your flash meter to get a guide number and test its reliabity.
    Of course one can use this with a manual flash that does not offer any power level variation. Using guide numbers, with practice, becomes, in my opinion, quite easy. Just choose your aperture and place your flash at the proper distance and in the proper location for the lighting effect you desire.. It is, with experience, much easier than it might first appear.
    #3
    Use combined flash/ambient meter for setting the flash and camera.
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    One thing I would add, is that rarely does fill flash look very good. It's kind of a tool in emergencies. Most times it is too bright and looks artificial. In my opinion for portrait type work you are far better off to understand light and know where to place subjects so that fill flash is not needed, or a reflector is used instead.

    That being said it can also be used for landscapes and other applications but it really needs to be subtle.

    Michael
     
  7. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I don't disagree with Blansky, but I don't totally agree either. In my personal opinion and that's all it is, many of the excellent images posted in the gallery
    sections could benefit from the use of some fill light, reflector, flash or my favorite white T shirt or whatever, bouncing light into a spot where it is needed. The fill should not dominate or for that matter be especially noticable or detract from the image in any way, but should create subtle separation and compliment the subjects modeling.
     
  8. eric

    eric Member

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    For a long time, I've always wanted my fill flash to be perfectly balanced. But for some reason, these days, I don't care anymore. I am playing around with just slightly more fill than ambient on the fill flash.