Flash photography is not just for night-time. Fill flash is a great technique to create a flattering light during day time. However it is a little tricky to use the flash as a complimentary light source instead of dominating one. If you get overly exposed photos while trying to use fill flash outdoors, you are most likely dealing with issues related to the flash sync speed. Hopefully the fill flash tips offered in this post can help you to avoid the problem.

Outdoor Photo

Unless you camera and flash supports high speed sync and it is enabled, the camera cannot use a shutter speed greater than the maximum sync speed of you camera. With typical flash sync speed of 1/250s, it easily leads to over-exposure for ambient light. The flash will make it worse.

If you want to do fill flash using the built-in pop-up flash, you will have no high speed sync capability and you have to stay below the sync speed. To do that in a bright day light, you can try any or combination of several things below:

  • Decrease ISO (or use Auto ISO)
  • Use a small aperture
  • Use a neutral density filter

If you shoot in Auto Mode or Program mode, the camera can automatically take care of the shutter so you can stay below the sync speed (unless it is limited by the smallest aperture of your lens). If you shoot Aperture Priority, you the photographer is in the driver seat to make sure the camera find a shutter speed below the sync speed by selecting proper aperture. On Nikon DSLR cameras, a “HI” reading may be indicated in the viewfinder or on the LCD panel if the required shutter speed for proper exposure is faster than the sync speed. The camera still allows you to take a photo but it will end up over-exposed. If you shoot in shutter Priority mode or manual mode, the camera will not let you select a shutter speed greater than the sync speed. On Nikon cameras, the shutter speed will be automatically changed to the sync speed.

If you use a high speed sync capable shoe-mount flash, camera and/or flash settings may need to be changed to enable the functionality. Again, on Nikon DSLR cameras, you need to enable the Auto FP high speed sync. On a Nikon D200, it is done by going to Custom Setting e1 and select “1/250s (Auto FP)” from the list of sync speed. With high speed sync enabled, the camera will be able to use proper shutter speed to ensure the photo is not over-exposed.

Do you have any fill flash tips to share? Please use the comment box below. You may also want to check out the related posts below for more flash photography tips.

Posted in: Photography Lighting on January 17th, 2012. Trackback URI
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