A common problem when taking pictures of people outside, especially during the midday hours, is that the overhead sun can create dark shadows under the eyes and chin. You could have your subject turn his or her face to the sun, but that’s usually considered cruel and unusual punishment. So how can you have your subject’s back to the sun and still get a decent exposure of the face? Try turning on your flash to fill in the shadows. This also works well when you are photographing someone with a ball cap or someone who has a bright scene behind them. The fill flash helps lighten the subject so they don’t appear in shadow, while providing a really nice catchlight in the eyes (Figure 6.10).
A catchlight is that little sparkle that adds life to the eyes. When you are photographing a person with a light source in front of them, you will usually get a reflection of that light in the eye, be it your flash, the sun, or something else brightly reflecting in the eye. The light is reflected off the surface of the eyes as bright highlights and serves to bring attention to the eyes.
The key to using the flash as a fill is to not use it on full power. If you do, the camera will try to balance the flash with the daylight, and you will get a very flat and featureless face.
Adjusting Fill Flash Power
- Press the Function/Set button.
- Use the Down button to highlight the +/– (Flash) icon (fifth from the top).
- Turn the Control dial (or use the Left or Right button) to select the desired amount of flash compensation.
- Press the Function/Set button again to accept the setting.
One problem that can quickly surface when using the on-camera flash is red-eye.