Many new (not to mention existing) DSLR owners seem to be afraid of flash for some strange reason (other than the cost). Regardless of why, people often overlook the importance, and sometimes, necessity, of a good flash. An external one, that is. Not the built-in, harsh, direct, nastiness that I un-affectionately refer to as “the ugly maker.” Even more overlook the importance of learning how to use their flash properly, and to its full potential. That is why some of my favorite classes to teach are the School of Imaging‘s Flash Series workshops. To help ease your worried mind if you have been toying with the idea of adding a flash to your photographic arsenal, below is the number one reason not to fear the flash…
The great thing about modern flash systems is that they all make use of TTL Metering… Wait! Where are you going? Let me explain… TTL Metering makes these scary light-maker-thingys a heck of a lot easier to use. TTL stands for “Through The Lens” Metering, which, when boiled down to its essentials, means that when you take a picture, the flash emits a pre-flash that bounces off your subject and gets read back, you guessed it, through the lens, into the camera. Still with me? Good. The camera then tells the flash how much power to put out in order to get the right exposure. It’s like magic. Seriously. I’m still mystified by it. This pre-flash happens so fast that it often isn’t even noticeable and more often than not, gives you the proper exposure. You may have to override the flash in certain situations, but those scenarios are for future posts, or better yet, come take a Flash Workshop at the School of Imaging. (<- shameless self-promotion to keep me employed)
The moral of this post? Gone are the days of having to earn multiple degrees in Mathematics, Geophysics, Biophysics, Optics and Patience, in order to use a flash (although that last one could still come in handy.) Just throw it on your camera, set it to TTL, and shoot away. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is.
Note: Most manufacturers name their TTL systems slightly different from one another (Pentax:P-TTL | Canon E-TTL | Nikon iTTL, etc.), likely just to make it sound like they have something to offer that the others don’t or simply to give brand-loyal consumers something to argue about (“Yeah, well, my Nikon has iTTL! You know what the i stands for? Intelligent!). Don’t be confused by this. They all do roughly the same thing. Magic.