In manual mode, on my camera, there are four different types of flash:

  • Fill flash
  • Slow sync
  • Rear
  • Wireless

Red eye reduction – how it works

Most cameras have a red eye reduction setting somewhere in the camera menu.  It doesn’t actually eliminate red eye. It just reduces it. How does it do this? The red eye reduction setting triggers two flashes. The first one reduces the size of your pupils as it’s those that reflect the light to cause the red eye – the larger the pupil, the more red you have in your eye –  and the second one takes the photo. This can trick people into thinking the photo has been taken when the first flash is triggered and then the move and miss the actual photo, so you have to start again. If you use this setting, it’s best to let the subject know not to move until after the second flash.

If you do have problems with red eye in photos, you can edit the photos in Photoshop or Camera Raw.

Slow flash / sync

If you use Aperture Priority, selecting this slow flash option will make your settings jump to a faster shutter speed. The flash will fire at the beginning of the exposure. We tried an exercise in class to demonstrate this using a slow shutter speed to get a long exposure.

In order to do this exercise, we needed dark / ambient lighting.

When photographing Phoebe with the slow flash, the flash fired as she started walking. The camera continued to record for 2 seconds. The result was a photo of Phoebe as she started walking from the left, and a trail of her feet in front of her as she walked across the room. The flash ‘froze’ her and the long exposure left the foot trail.


Rear flash

In contrast to the slow flash detailed above, the rear flash has the opposite effect. In this mode, the flash fires at the end of the exposure. We repeated the exercise using the rear flash and in the photo below, you can see that this time, Phoebe is frozen at the end of her walk when the flash triggered and her foot trails are behind her.


More practice

Although this relates more to last week’s flash lesson, this week I tried to use water with my flash in an attempt to freeze it. The following slideshow demonstrates my thought process and the results.

I started photographing a dripping tap. It wasn’t a particularly attractive photo but I wanted to try and freeze the drop by using flash.

  1. The very first photo does not use flash
  2. The second photo is the same as the first but with flash. The flash is too bright
  3. I reduced the power of the flash in the third photo
  4. I kept missing the drip so I ran the tap a bit faster and photographed the flow of the water in a straight line. I decided to photograph further down so that the tap wasn’t in the pictures. I also decided that I didn’t like the background so I covered it with an oven glove to give it bit of colour
  5. I finally managed to get some tiny drips so persevered with different speeds of water and started to get the effect I wanted

Finally, I got pictures better than I was hoping for and that I was not expecting! The Union Jack serviette worked really well. Unfortunately, my sensor needs to be cleaned so there is dust on the photos but this can be edited out with Photoshop until I get chance to have my sensor cleaned.