How To Use Flash Effectively With Your Phone’s Camera

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.41.47 AM

Ah, flash. It can brighten up a dark picture – or it can leave you with ghostly white faces. Is there a way to master its fickleness?

Sometimes you can get away with turning on a light or moving your subject out of the shadows. But sometimes you can’t.

For those times when flash is a necessity, here are some tips to guide you in the art of using it properly.

Turn off auto flash. Your camera likes to think it’s smarter than you by employing automatic settings. If you see an A with a thunderbolt next to it, that means your auto flash is on. Turn it off! That way you can pick and choose when you need it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.41.22 AM

Switch off auto flash so you have more control.

Use flash to balance sunlight. Let’s say you’re at the park taking some pictures of your kiddos and notice shadows on their faces. That’s the perfect time to turn on your flash. “But it’s bright outside!” you say. It may seem counterintuitive, as we tend to associate camera flash and darkness. Yet sometimes the natural light doesn’t do enough for your photo, so utilizing your flash creates a killer balance that chases those shadows away.

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.41.47 AM

Using flash when it’s sunny helps to eliminate shadows. (Image: Leah Schmalz)

Judge your distance. Distance when using flash can be a little tricky. Too close and you’ll end up with blown out highlights and pale faces, but too far and the flash won’t reach the subject. That means when it’s really dark, standing too far away will give you nothing more than a lovely photo of the air (and maybe some dust particles). Play around with distance to find the best fit!

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.42.02 AM

Stay away from reflective surfaces like mirrors and glass. (Image: Leah Schmalz)

Avoid walls and glass. Need some flash for a photo of a friend? Have your bud step away from any walls to avoid casting ghastly shadows. Likewise, avoid the glass in windows, mirrors, fish tanks…you name it. That reflected ball of light will shine back at you proudly as it bombs your photo.

Got any best practices to share when you’ve just gotta use flash? Let us know in the comments!

Leah is a freelance writer, photo junkie, and avid traveler. When she's not chipping away at a story, you can find her exploring the outdoors or planning her next adventure. Read about them on her blog, Relentless Adventure.

Be first to comment

Leave a Reply