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6.4: Fill Flash

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Fill Flash. 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 Silhouettes, you learned about a creative way to use backlighting. While you might want backlit subjects for silhouettes, in other photos you may want to capture the light AND the subject. A common lighting problem is a dark subject caused by backlighting like a sunset, bright sky, or window. The way to fix this is by applying a flash technique called fill flash. Fill flash combines the effects of the natural light from behind the subject with light from your camera's flash in front of the subject.

    Set your camera to forced flash (flash always on) and shoot the photo. What the flash does is to illuminate the subject in the foreground. By about 10-15 feet behind the subject, the flash effect goes away, so the flash doesn't illuminate the background. This brightens the subject while still capturing the natural light of the background.

    Here's an example of a photo without applying fill flash. You can see that the light source behind the subject creates too much of a shadow effect with the subjects. [Note: This photo has been edited to increase the shadowed effect.]

    man and dog shadowed by bright sky in the background

    Here's the same photo with fill flash applied. The sky and background remain the same, but the flash illuminates the man, dog, rocks, and ground closer to the camera.

    man and dog with fill flash applied


    Learn more about fill flash at Fill Flash (4-slide tutorial) from

    Build Your Skills

    To build your fill flash skills, you're going to shoot four or more pairs of photos. Choose subjects with light coming from behind them. For the first photo in each pair, use the natural light without your camera's flash. For the second photo in each pair, apply fill flash by turning your camera's flash to ON so that it flashes when you shoot the photo.

    Compare your fill flash photo pairs. Select FOUR pairs. Share your photo pairs 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 backlit?
    • What is fill flash, and how does it correct a backlit subject problem?
    • Describe how you applied fill flash in each of the four photo pairs you selected.


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: youngthousands; December 30, 2007

    [Figure 2]

    Credit: youngthousands; December 30, 2007

    This page titled 6.4: Fill Flash 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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