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6.2: Flash and Distance

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Flash and Distance. 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

    You've learned that your digital camera's flash can provide more light when needed. However, flash has a limitation - distance from your subject. This applies both to being too far away and too close.

    The amount of light your flash provides drops off quickly as the subject is further from the camera. By about 10-15 feet away, the subject gets little or no light from the flash. Here's a flash photo that shows what happens when the subjects are too far away. Notice that the flash is unable to illuminate the subjects at this distance. It also means that all those people in huge stadiums who shoot flash photos of action far away on the field are getting no benefit from their cameras' flashes. All they're doing is illuminating the backs of the heads of the people in front of them.

    use of flash from too far away

    The closer your flash is to the subject the stronger the effect of the flash. If you are too close and the flash is too strong, the subject will be blown out. The highlights on the face, forearm, and hands in this photo are blown out. [Note: The original photo has been edited to create the blown out appearance.]

    portrait with flash that's too strong

    You may be able to compensate for being too far from, or close to, your subject by increasing or decreasing the flash intensity using your digital camera's +/– flash options (see previous lesson).


    Learn more about flash and distance at Flash Photography 101 - A Beginner's Guide from

    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, use your digital camera's flash and shoot from too far away, too close, and in-between positions.

    Review your flash photos. Select one set of photos that best demonstrates the three distance positions. 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 happens to a photo when the subject is too far away from your flash?
    • What happens to a photo when the subject is too close to your flash?
    • For your selected set of photos, describe how the three distance positions affected the photos.


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: mia!; March 21, 2005

    [Figure 2]

    Credit: Ian Wedlock; July 10, 2009

    This page titled 6.2: Flash and Distance 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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