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6.1: Flash Modes

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Flash Modes. In Get the Basics, you'll get explanations and photos to build understanding. In Explore, you'll find additional online resources to learn more. It's important to review and learn from these resources also! You'll have opportunities to practice in Build Your Skills. Finally, answer the questions in Record Your Findings at the end of this topic, Be sure to include information you learned from the Explore resources.

    Get the Basics

    In the previous chapter, you learned a lot about light. There may be times when you want to shoot a photo and there won't be enough light. You'll need some extra light. That’s the purpose of your digital camera’s flash. When you use flash, your camera supplies a brief burst of light timed with the digital camera shutter.

    Knowing the flash settings for your digital camera is important. The most common setting is toggling between Off, On, and Auto Flash modes. Icons for these settings may vary, but they generally look something like these:

    Off, On, Auto Flash icons

    Sometimes using your digital camera's low light setting produces a better photo than using the flash. In that case, you would set flash to Off, so it wouldn't flash. Other times, you may need just a little boost and can set the flash to On, so it will flash regardless of other settings. If you're not sure, leave your flash set to Auto and the camera will decide if flash is needed for your photo.

    In addition, many digital cameras have +/– options that adjust the flash intensity. See if yours has a +/– flash option. If it does, you can increase the flash intensity with the + and decrease flash intensity with the –.


    Learn more about digital camera flash modes, including red-eye reduction and fill flash (addressed in its own lesson) at Flash Modes Explained Simply by Digital Photo Secrets:

    Build Your Skills

    To build your flash skills, you're going to shoot two or more sets of three photos. Choose a dimly-lit situation for each set. In each set, shoot with each of the three main flash modes - Off, On, and Auto Flash.

    Review your flash photos. Select one set of photos that best demonstrates the three settings. Share your photos with your teacher, and be prepared to discuss how they show what you’ve learned. Download your photos to a computer to keep them for the portfolio you’ll create in the end-of-course final project.

    Record Your Findings

    • What are the three main flash settings, and what do they do?
    • What other flash modes may be available on some digital cameras?
    • For your selected set of photos, describe how the flash mode settings affected the photos.


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: Stephen Politzer; July 11, 2014
    Source: created by the course author

    This page titled 6.1: Flash Modes is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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    CK-12 Foundation is licensed under CK-12 Curriculum Materials License