7 Dec 2007

How to take indoor pictures without a tripod. Part 3

In the third short article about how to get interior pictures indoors without using a tripod, let's take a look at how we might use flash. A variety of techniques were used for flash in the ironmonger's shop.

Direct flash light, either from the camera's pop-up unit, or from a flash gun mounted on the camera, can be hard and unpleasant. Bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling is common practice. But what do you do if there are no walls to bounce it off? Or the ceiling is far too high? All is not lost.

You can raise the quality of the light and soften it by swivelling the head of a flash mounted on the camera’s hot shoe to one side and angling the light to reflect off a piece of paper. Anything white will do. Just get your angle right. You can even aim the flash at a reflector held in one hand while holding the camera in the other hand – as in the picture above.

The stag's head was mounted high up on a wall in dark corner of the shop. Without a flash I could not have photographed it. The flash head was turned to aim at a sheet of paper held in my left hand. The flash has reached right up into the corner with a lovely soft light. Using one of those small box-type diffusers that clip over the flash will have little effect if there are no reflective walls or objects around the flash. The light will still be from a very small light source - and that's what gives hard shadows. If you think about it, the stag's head is lit by a light which is the size of the magazine pages - much better.
For the picture of the plant pots and shop interior, the camera was settled on a bag of dog food. I took the flash gun off the camera. A shutter speed of 2secs was used with the self timer. I fired off a couple of low-powered flashes by hand while the shutter was open. This added a little light into the shadows.

Shooting from behind the life-size dummy horse in the shop window and looking out into the street, the lighting contrast was very high and created only a silhouette image with little detail in the foreground. To counteract this I used the camera's pop-up flash, but reduced its output by –2 values... just enough to add detail and colour.

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