How to use Speedlight Flash

Flash Photography Tips

In the rich and diverse domain of photography, an array of techniques and gadgets beckon enthusiasts to delve deeper. A significant aspect that stands out is flash photography, a realm where the seemingly simple camera flash is often engulfed in a myriad of misconceptions. Today, we venture forth into the nuanced world of employing Speedlight Flash in photography, demystifying the optimal moments, locations, and methods to harness its potential for capturing subjects in the perfect light. Allow me to guide you through an enlightening session, featuring my tried and tested flash photography tips, which are geared to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the flash photography concept. Furthermore, we will be elucidating on the pivotal topic of “How to Use a Speedlight Flash,” ensuring you are well-equipped to navigate this fascinating facet of photography with proficiency and artistry.

Flash Photography: Unravelling the Myths

Most of us assume that flash is only to be used in low-light or indoor environments. Yes, it’s a saviour in those dimly lit rooms, but its utility is not just confined within four walls. Sometimes, even the great outdoors, with all the natural light, can necessitate a flash. Intrigued? Let’s dive right in on the intricacy of how to use a speedlight with my flash photography tips.

The Great Outdoors

When shooting outdoors, especially during the daytime, you might encounter lighting conditions where the sun creates harsh shadows on your subject. This is where your flash comes in handy. Utilizing fill flash can help in balancing the exposure, reducing shadows, and bringing out the details in your subject.

Indoor Photography

In indoor settings, instead of bumping up your ISO to uncomfortable levels and introducing noise into your image, using a flash can provide the additional light needed to brighten your subject without compromising the image quality.

Avoiding Noise with Grace with your Speedlight

Yes, cranking up the ISO can often be a quick solution, but it comes at the cost of noise creeping into your images, robbing them of their clarity and detail. A flash can prevent this, illuminating your subject adequately without the need for high ISO levels. Using a flash either direct or indirect to bounce your flash off of the ceiling or the walls.

Where to Begin with Flash Photography: Unleashing the Power of Speedlights

Embarking on the journey of flash photography can seem a bit daunting initially. Where does one begin? How does one harness the true potential of this powerful tool? Worry not, as we venture into the vibrant world of flash photography, here we’ll elucidate the wonders a speedlight can work for your photos.

Built-in Camera Flash vs Speedlight attached to your cameras hot shoe: The Creative Freedom

While many cameras come equipped with a built-in flash, they indeed limit the scope of experimenting with light directionality, often resulting in flat, overexposed images. The built in camera flash will cast a direct burst of light onto your subject, not offering much room to play around with shadows and angles.

This is where a speedlight becomes a game-changer, gifting photographers the creative freedom to illuminate their subjects from various angles, to bounce the light off the ceilings and the walls you are thereby bringing depth and dimension to the photographs.

Flash Photography Illuminated: Your Guide to Mastering Indoor Lighting and Capturing Stunning Images

Navigating the maze of indoor photography with unpredictable and often insufficient lighting conditions can be a challenge. But fear not! In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of using a flash indoors to create well-lit and stunning photographs. Let’s set off on this enlightening journey!

Step 1: Setting the Stage with Aperture

When you’re gearing up to shoot indoors, make sure your camera is in full manual mode, so forget about aperture priority and shutter speed, these are all best set in manual. After this, your first task should be to set your exposure for the background. Choose an aperture that complements your artistic vision. Remember, the holy trinity of photography – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture – govern the ambient light surrounding you, and the flash serves to illuminate your subject.

Step 2: Dialling in the Right ISO and Shutter Speed

Once the aperture is fixed, move on to adjusting the ISO and shutter speed to expose for the background adequately. As a thumb rule, set your ISO between 100 and 400, to retain maximum image quality. Then, manipulate the shutter speed to fine-tune the exposure. This delicate dance between ISO and shutter speed will help you capture the background in all its glory, without noise or motion blur.

Step 3: Let the Flash Work Its Magic

With the background settings in place, turn your attention to your subject. The flash comes into play here, banishing shadows and highlighting the nuances of your subject. To begin with, set the flash power to zero compensation. This means your flash will fire at a power level determined to be correct by your camera’s metering system.

TTL Mode or manual flash

If your a beginner then TTL mode will be the easiest place to start, don’t run before you can walk

So let’s talk modes. While speedlights offer different modes, for this tutorial we focus on TTL (Through The Lens) mode. TTL mode communicates with your camera to gauge the perfect flash power needed for your settings, ideal if you are new to flash photography. Moreover, it enables you to adjust the flash power and the zoom level of your flash, harmonizing it with your lens’ focal length, ranging typically from 24mm to 105mm.

Matching Zoom Levels

In TTL mode, ensure the zoom level on your flash corresponds with the zoom on your lens. This synchronization aids in concentrating or dispersing the flash light effectively, based on the focal length of your lens.

Finding the Perfect Flash Power

The journey to the perfect photograph doesn’t end here. To nail the shot, you might need to adjust the flash power further. Start at zero flash compensation and then tweak according to the requirements of your scene. Sometimes, a slight increase or decrease in flash power can be the difference between a good photograph and a great one.


Indoor photography, especially in poor lighting conditions, can be tricky but immensely rewarding. As you venture into the world of flash photography, remember that mastering the settings and exposure is key to capturing your subjects in the best light, literally! Experiment with different settings, play around with the flash power, and don’t be afraid to try new techniques.

This is a photograph I took at a friends wedding. Notice how the utilization of a speedlight illuminates the subject beautifully, accentuating their features while maintaining a dark background, which further emphasizes the subject’s prominence.

Transcending Boundaries: Applying Indoor Flash Techniques Outdoors

Often, the tricks and techniques we master for one type of photography can seamlessly apply to another, broadening our skills and allowing for more dynamic shots. This is certainly true when it comes to using flash photography techniques mastered indoors in an outdoor setting. Let’s explore how the principles we discussed for indoor photography can just as easily be your best friend outdoors.

Understanding the Universality of Light

Whether indoors or out, the principles of lighting remain constant. Your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO continue to be the pillars holding up your photograph, guiding the ambient light present in the scene. The flash then comes in as a powerful tool to illuminate your subject effectively and accentuate details, bringing a new depth to your images.

The Seamless Transition

When you step outside, you don’t have to leave behind the techniques you’ve honed indoors. Here’s how you can adapt them to the outdoors:

  1. Setting the Aperture: Just as indoors, start by setting the aperture to control the depth of field in your scene. Depending on your creative vision, choose an aperture that brings the best out of the background.
  2. Managing ISO and Shutter Speed: Proceed to adjust the ISO and shutter speed, keeping in mind the natural light conditions. A lower ISO will still be your companion in achieving noise-free images, and shutter speed will help in freezing the moment or capturing motion, just the way you envision.
  3. Flash as Your Outdoor Assistant: Even in natural light or under the sun, a flash can be a great assistant. Your flash is a great light source, it can fill in the shadows cast by harsh sunlight, providing a more balanced and even lighting on your subject. Using flash can particularly be a saviour during the golden hours, adding a sparkle to your subject against a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
  4. Utilizing TTL Mode: Don’t shy away from using the TTL mode outdoors. It continues to be a powerful tool in gauging and providing the right amount of flash power, working in harmony with the existing outdoor light.

Adapt and Experiment

While the basic principles remain the same, the great outdoors provides a vibrant and varied canvas to experiment on. Utilize the flash to counteract harsh shadows in bright sunlight or to add a burst of light on an overcast day. Remember to adjust the flash zoom level according to your lens setting, ensuring the right spread of light on your subject. Bear in mind, light travels in a straight line, so you might find it necessary to alter its path using a reflector attached to your speedlight, facilitating a more gentle and flattering bounce of flash onto your subject. Although speedlights were initially conceived for direct flash photography to produce a source of natural light, they can sometimes overly illuminate your subject. Therefore, using the flash in conjunction with a reflector can help achieve a more natural and balanced look.


As you venture into the world of outdoor photography armed with your flash Photography techniques, remember that the sky is literally the limit. Allow yourself the freedom to experiment, to play around with colour temperature, lighting conditions, light and shadow, and to create magic with your lens.

In photography, the learning never stops, and every setting—be it indoors or outdoors—offers a new lesson. So step out, take your flash along, and paint the world with your vision, one flash at a time.

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