Learning to understand the use of flash in photographs involves looking at images and analysing the reflections and shadows visible in them. Analaysing the way that other photographers use flash will help me to make conscious choices about lighting and flash in my own work.
Bruce Davidson is an American photographer, based in New York. His series of photographs taken on the New York subway demonstrate different uses of flash.
This photograph was taken using direct flash, the tell-tale signs of this are:
- The ‘flash hotspot’ visible on the wall behind the subject, where the flash has bounced off of the reflective surface.
- There are harsh reflections coming off of the subject’s face
- The red colour of his tracksuit stands out, high contrast colours
- The areas around the flash have faded off into darkness
- Fast shutter speed
Again, this photo was taken using direct flash:
- The people in the foreground are well lit
- The subjects in the background are also in focus which would suggest a high aperture was used (f/22)
- Davidson is photographing into direct sunlight meaning the subjects are also backlit
This photo was taken using bounce flash, the flash has been bounced off the ceiling of the subway car resulting in softer light
- Reflection of flash is visible in the subjects glasses
- An aperture of around f/5.6 and f/8
- Subject in the background is also in focus
- Direct flash has been used in this photo to obvious effect.
- The flash has reflected off of the muscles on the subject’s body, exaggerating the shadows
- The saturation of colours intensifies the skin tone of the subjects
- A low aperture, probably f/22 results in a dark background making the subjects stand out even more
Rineke Dijestra is a Dutch photographer who lives and works in Amsterdam.
- Direct flash has been used for this portrait
- Reflection of light on the subject’s stomach and legs
- Underexposed background as a result of a high aperture