External Flash Photography

At its most basic level, good photography is about manipulating light to create a pleasing image. So, when it comes to using a flash attachment on your camera, the choices you make can greatly affect your results. Whether you're looking to brush up on bounce flash basics or learn a little about Olympus' wireless flash technology, this short article sheds a little light on flash photography.

Bounce Flash Basics

Direct flash shooting often casts strong shadows and flattens perspective. Try bouncing your flash for softer, more natural lighting results. When bounce shooting, the flash head is pointed toward a wall or ceiling and directs a soft, supplementary illumination on the subject. You find this creates a life-like, three-dimensional look and texture in your photos.

Take a look at these examples of direct flash shooting (Pic. 1) and bounce shooting with the FLRA-1 reflector adapter (Pic. 2).

Portrait Example: E-510 + 14-54mm + FL-50R: 1/80 sec. F3.3
Notice how harsh shadows are controlled by bounce shooting. Furthermore, the reflector adapter is an excellent tool for highlighting areas that tend to be dark with bounce shooting alone.

Pic. 1

Pic. 1

Pic. 2

Pic. 2

The Benefits of Wireless Flash

To enable easy remote flash photography, Olympus developed several wireless flashes -- the FL-50R, FL-600R and FL-300R -- and a new optical communication system called RC Data Transfer.

No external commander is required, thanks to the commander function incorporated into the built-in flash of many new Olympus cameras. Since the number of flashes can be increased without worrying about cables, it's easy to experiment with a wide range of creative lighting techniques. The ability to transmit large amounts of data using a minimum number of flash pulses also helps reduce power consumption of the commander unit camera.

PEN, OM-D and Stylus XZ-2 cameras are compatible with Olympus wireless flashes.

Wireless Flash Shooting:
Mono Lighting

Using a wireless flash you can create an interesting effect by lighting your subject from the side. But this means you may want to soften the shadows by diffusing the flash light.

Direct flash from left casts a long shadow behind the car (Car pic. 1). Place tracing paper between the flash and the car to diffuse the light (Car pic. 2). Place a reflector to the right of the composition to bring out the texture of the door and windows (Car pic. 3).

Car Pic 1

Car Pic. 1

Car Pic 2

Car Pic. 2

Car Pic 3

Car Pic. 3

Dress Pic 1

Dress Pic. 1

Dress Pic 2

Dress Pic. 2

Wireless Flash Shooting: Two flashes

Emphasize the subject by using two external flashes and applying light to both the subject and background.

When the background is dark, the subject will also appear dim, seeming to merge into the background. Bouncing the main light for the subject onto a wall can render the face brighter, while splashing another light on the background can fill the image with natural brightness, making the subject stand out clearly. Background lighting can also help create different moods by using a color filter.

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