Most cameras have a flash built into the camera body, many pop up when activated, and have both much lower power and fewer controls than most off-camera add-on flashes used with SLR style cameras. However, that doesn’t mean your camera’s built-in flash is not useful. These photography quick tips will help you get the most out of your camera’s built-in flash.
Diffuse the Flash
To create a softer light that does not create harsh shadows you can make your own diffuser. To diffuse a built-in flash, simply tape a piece of velum paper or thin cotton over the flash. While this will reduce the distance the flash will travel, it will create a more pleasing soft light than a naked flash. It will soften shadows and reduce glare so that photos look natural. You can also experiment with different color plastic wrap to create special effects lighting.
Use a Bounce Card
Even though your flash is attached to the camera, you can use a small index card or other small white card to interrupt the flash’s light so that it must bounce in another direction. This greatly reduces the effective strength of the flash since the light must travel further but, like a diffuser, it lessens harsh shadows and glare. Unlike diffusers, it can also adjust the direction of shadow by changing the direction of the light.
Turn the Camera
Without a bounce card, turning the camera will change the direction of the light from the flash somewhat. Having the light come from the side of a subject, even slightly, can change the way shadows fall on the face and create a more pleasing image than shadows from just slightly overhead light.
Use Red Eye Reduction
If your camera has red eye reduction, a small strobe that fires right before the main flash, use it. Red eye occurs when the angle the flash, or other light, enters the eyes is very small so that the light entering the eye bounces back into the camera. This is basically the same event that creates green eye in pets. Because you can not increase the distance between the lens and the flash, which would change the light angle, the strobe is necessary to cause the eyes to contract and lessen the chances of red eye.
Add a Slave Flash
The terminology stinks but these low-cost flashes can be placed on a stand at another point in the room (within the range of your on-camera flash) and will activate when your on-camera flash fires. This is a great way to have instant studio lighting without spending thousands of dollars. Just be sure to check with the flash manufacturer about how strong the flash needs to be to activate the slave flash as this will limit how far away you can place the additional flashes and how much diffusion you can add to the built-in flash itself.