Fill Light; Use Your Flash Outdoors Page 2

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·Some SLRs and a few digicams allow for an alternative technique, "slow speed sync" or flash at long shutter speeds. This is particularly useful for "pan/blur" effects with nearby moving subjects with some sharp and some blurred image areas. Set a shutter speed such as 1/15 sec and move the camera at the same speed as the subject to create an image with a strong sense of motion.

Although not discussed in the text, a macro flash system is the ideal accessory for extreme close-up photography. The most versatile models include at least two tubes that can be controlled independently, allowing for directional light when that is the desired effect.

·Try off-camera flash using the appropriate TTL connecting cable accessory (about $50) that runs from the hot shoe to a remote flash unit. Or use Wireless Off Camera TTL Flash if available with your camera/flash unit. Ask a friend to hold the remote flash unit above and to the side of the subject or buy a flash bracket accessory ($90 and up) that's designed for this purpose.

·For gentler illumination, buy a "diffuser" that will spread and soften the light, such as a LumiQuest, MilaGrid or Gary Fong accessory sold by major photo retailers. They're most effective when the subject is no more than six feet from the camera so they're most appropriate for close-up photos of people and nature subjects.

Most camera manufacturers market TTL cables that connect an off-camera flash unit to the hot shoe, maintaining full automation. While some cameras/flash units provide Wireless Off Camera TTL flash, that may require a triggering accessory allow for convenient off-camera flash.

·If you want to photograph birds or mammals using a 300mm or longer lens, you'll need an accessory to extend flash range. The simplest, most affordable ($40) product of this type is the Flash X-Tender or Better Beamer available from several vendors and easily found with a Google search. Employing a Fresnel lens that concentrates the light from flash into a narrow beam, this accessory makes flash useful for distant subjects.

A flash diffuser accessory such as this LumiQuest model produces softer light that's more pleasing and more suitable for many types of images. Do note however that a device of this type is most effective with nearby subjects and it does cause some loss of light that reduces the effective range of flash. If you find that you're getting underexposed flash photos, move closer to the subject or set a higher ISO level (for greater sensitivity).

Some of the advanced techniques may seem complicated but they're quite easy thanks to "intelligent" multi-segment metering and "smart flash" systems. With a digital camera, you have a definite benefit: the ability to review photos immediately. If the effect is not quite right, try slightly different settings or a modified approach. Regardless of the equipment, read the instruction manuals for features and for any tips or flash range data provided by the manufacturer. Once you become proficient with flash in outdoor photography, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

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