Readers Photo Challenge: Filling the void

The current Readers Photo Challenge assignment, “fill-flash,” may proved too challenging for some. Only 2 people sent in all of 3 qualified photos. I can understand trying a new technique can be intimidating but this one is an important one to learn. I use it all the time. In the two weeks between the issuance and the deadline of challenge, I employed fill-flash on 5 assignments even though I was off for 4 of those days). If you’re taking an outdoor portrait fill-flash helps to fill in those shadows that the harsh sunlight can cause and lead to a more pleasing picture.

Here are the entries.

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Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera to photograph her 3-year-old neighbor Theodora Graham at her on the front porch of her home in Stockton. Spurgeon used the built-in pop-up flash on the camera to augment the open shade of the porch. Spurgeon’s effort is an example of using just barely enough light rather than overwhelming force. The flash added just enough light to even out the tones in Graham’s face and make her stand out against the neutral background while still making her look natural.

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The challenge assignment was Stockton resident Steven Rapaport’s first attempt at trying a fill-flash technique. He sent in 2 photos for the challenge and although he describes his experience with flash as “poor,” Rapaport’s entries are great illustrations of why one should use flash during the day. The first photo, of his wife Linda, is a classic example of the use of fill-flash. She’s back/side lit in bright sunlight and normally she would be in deep shadow, but Rapaport used a Canon 70D DSLR camera with a Canon 580EX II Speedlite flash which illuminated the shadows and brought out the pleasant details of her face.

Being a owner of a black dog I can relate to the problems in photographing one outdoors. The harsh sunlight can create shadows that are hard to differentiate from a dog’s dark coat make it look like just a black blob with two eyes peering out.

The flash in Rapaport’s second photo, of his pet dog Bonnie, illuminates her coat and helps bring detail to his pet that might otherwise been lost.

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Although this challenge is over it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn how to use fill-flash on your own. It’s a useful skill to learn and can become an invaluable tool in your photographic repertoire and help liven up your portraits. Stay tuned for next Thursday for a new assignment.

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