One of the things I gave up when I changed camera bodies was a built-in flash. That may not seem like such a big deal, since built-in flashes are known for washing pictures out, causing harsh shadows and red eyes.
A built-in flash can have its good points, though. For example, used sparingly as “fill light”, it can provide just enough light to bring a subject out of the shadows – such as this trillium I shot last year in the spring. (I would have composed it differently now, but it’s a good representation of where I was a year ago!):
Fill flash is no longer an option, unless I tote around the Speedlight – which I’m not inclined to do when shooting outdoors. So when I was in California a few weeks ago, I picked up a little 12″ white/gold reflector. I had seen videos of reflectors used for outdoor portraits, but hadn’t used one myself. This little guy folds up to a nice size that fits in the side pocket of my camera bag. I knew it wouldn’t be big enough for portraits, but then again, I just don’t do that many portraits!
During my lunch break the other day, I played around with taking photos of onion flowers. With the sun high up in the sky (and a little bit south), the bottom side of the front flower was in complete shadow.
It was time to break out the reflector, to see what it could do to help.
At first I tried using the white side, but didn’t notice any difference – so I tried the gold. And sure enough, it lit up the bottom of the flower. A little too much.
So just for comparison purposes, I tried the white side. I didn’t see it out in the field – too much glare on the camera display – but when I loaded up the picture at home, I saw that the white side cast a nice amount of light. (It could have been aimed slightly higher.)
At that point, I put the reflector away, and started taking pictures from down below the flowers. They’re about 5′ tall, so it wasn’t so difficult! Although I didn’t use the reflector on (what I considered to be) the best shot of the series, I was able to simulate the under-lighting using the shadow slider in Lightroom:
So the verdict is: both the reflector and the Lightroom shadow adjustment will do the job. For me, lightening it up with software is easier – but I’d love to hear other opinions!