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Flash gun: An essential accessory to play with light in photography

Updated on July 16, 2011


In photography the importance of light is undeniable because lack of proper amount of light makes your photo dark and obscure. Flash gun provides you the amount of light you require but you need to control its power to get best exposure, because a high power flash makes shadow behind your photo. So what you need is to find the proper way to use the flash while taking photo.

There are some different ways to use flash light like direct, bounce, reflected, diffused etc. These techniques of using flash gun may help you. The most common way of using flash gun is pointing the gun directly to the subject. This method holds no good when subject is at near to photographer because external flash produces higher power rating which in turn creates shadow behind the photo which makes it unattractive. But it is better solution to point directly when the subject is much far from the photographer.

An alternative way to solve drawback of direct point method for nearer subject is to bounce the light on ceiling or wall before it reached to subject which does not produce shadow and looks photo attractive.Many event photographers use a reflector technique where light is reflected to the subject instead of fall directly on it. You can easily self made the reflector using a white cardboard, and attach it to the back of your external flash gun. If you are intended to shoot portraits, you can try using a golden reflector to achieve a golden and more attractive skin tone of your model.


Using a diffuser to diffuse or scatter the light source is another technique used by many photographers. In this case you need an external diffuser capped on the head of flash gun. This diffuser will diffuse the light to create softer effect on the subject producing natural and evenly result.

Choosing a proper flash gun is an important thing. It should always try to afford the most powerful flash as you can. Flashes without enough power limit your options. Guide number is a measure that helps to determine the aperture and distance setting to get the correct exposure. Guide number= distance * f-number. Modern flashes can adjust the power accordingly so that the guide number gives an indication of the units maximum output.

However it doesn’t matter whether you use brand new flash gun with automatic, internal zoom or old fashioned flash that has to be manually set the goal is to match the proper amount of light. By understanding the concept how light plays critical role in photography only help you the absolute use of flash gun.

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