Flash is a powerful tool. It can soften the look of harsh lighting or it can simulate the sun on a cloudy day. An external flash unit is as sophisticated as the camera it’s connected to. Flash can provide control over the amount of light, the spread of light and the angle at which that light is directed. Wireless triggering allows the flash to be off-camera, moved around a subject or hidden within a scene.
Some outdoor photographers shy away from flash because they fear they will lose the natural look. They might liken an image taken with a flash to blasting light at a subject and creating that “deer-in-the-headlights” look. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mother Nature does a great job providing light in various colors and qualities. Not all light is “sweet light,” however. Many scenes and subjects could benefit in both great and subtle ways with a little help from a flash. Once the use of flash is mastered, it can become a formidable ally. By understanding a few principles about flash and how it works with existing light, you can dramatically improve your nature photography.
Available Light And Supplemental Light
We have no control over outdoor (available) light. While we can lighten or darken our exposures, we can’t change the brightness level of the light that’s available to us. Flash, on the other hand, is supplemental light, and we have full control over it. Flash settings can be adjusted to increase or decrease output to lighten or darken the subject without changing the camera’s exposures for the outdoor light. The advantage of utilizing both available and flash light sources for an image is that they can be managed separately. This fundamental concept allows the magic to begin.