Do you want to improve your relationship with your DSLR camera? Take amazing pictures when there is practically no light in the room? Do you find yourself at parties or family events in the evenings, and every picture is turning out fuzzy because people just can’t sit still enough for your “candid” shots? I could fill up 50 million hard drives with the hideous fuzzy, dark pictures I’ve taken—or the pictures I’ve taken with a direct flash: washed out, red-eyed vamipiric looking people, with an end product that looks like I used a disposable camera (no offense to disposable camera users!). And then I wail: “but that was the amazing diiiiiiiiner with all our extended faaaaamily, and there’s not a single shot in fooooocus!” At which point I realize that whining is a very unappealing thing to do, and I promptly stop for the benefit of my long-suffering husband.
Let’s talk about light for a minute. Yes, natural light is best. Whether it’s faces or shots of delicious food concoctions, natural light just makes it all look good. This causes me much dismay since our apartment’s windows face east and only receive sunlight for a few hours during the morning while I am usually at work. By the time I get home, the apartment is shrouded in shadows. Our kitchen has a window facing west, and it only gets sunlight for about 10 minutes in the evening due to the constraints of the narrow alley out back (otherwise known as “dumpster trashland”). Normally I take my food over to the window ledge to get some pictures—but at some point the winter will come again, which means darkness descends before I even leave the office. Have I painted a grim enough picture for you?
Getting to the heart of it—the external flash will enable you to take amazing pictures in low-light situations. Like parties. Like my sister Heidi’s wedding rehearsal dinner last December. BEFORE THE EXTERNAL FLASH MY LIFE WAS AN EMPTY WASTELAND!
OK, well maybe not an empty wasteland—but I missed some wicked photo-ops. Am I sounding like an advertisement yet? Because this isn’t, really! These are my true emotions shining through.
At this point I would like to introduce you to the brilliant little piece of machinery called the Nikon Speedlight SB-600. I use it on my Nikon D5000. I’m not sure what the Canon external flash is called, but I guarantee they have something similar.
Have you been told not to use a flash in your photography? I certainly have. But that only applies to a flash which fires directly at your subject! Your in-camera flash will tend to create the undesirable, washed-out lighting. Once I tried to take a picture of some delicious Pasta all Carbonara with my flash. It’s already a cream-colored dish, and the flash just made it look like a disgusting pile of pasty and slimy alien-innards. However, an external flash such as this one mounts on top of the camera and swivels. Which means you can point the flash upwards, where it bounces off the ceiling, creating enough light to get a great picture without washing out your subject.
Now I am going to illustrate the magic with two sets of three pictures—the first with no flash, the second with the camera’s built-in flash, and the third with my buddy the Nikon Speedlight SB-600.
Here is the first set:
Not yet convinced? Here is set two:
Here is a picture of some friends taken with the external flash to just drive the point home. Pure magic!