What Is Fill Flash?

Fill Flash

Fill Flash: Are harsh shadows from the mid-day sun ruining your pictures? Do pictures of your friends have shadows on their faces making them hard to see? Do you have too much light coming from the wrong direction? Believe it or not, more light is want you need! By placing a little more light on your friends you can expose your shot to get that beautiful blue sky and their pretty faces too.

Digital Photography Terms | What Is Fill Flash?

Fill flash is what it says it is. It’s using light from your camera’s flash or an external flash to fill dark or shadowy areas with light. It is not simply using your flash to make your subject visible. It is a flash photography technique that when done well, isn’t noticed. And sometimes it's the only way to get a picture worth sharing.

What is Fill Flash?

Above: My light source (the sun) was directly behind my subject. By using my camera's built-in flash I was able to put some light on my friend's face to bring out the details. However, and there always seems to be a "but, hold on" to every photo solution; notice how the leaves in the foreground are now overexposed? Use your fill flash with caution and pay attention to how it affects the rest of your picture and not just your subject. 

Fill flash is often used to help light subjects while the harsh mid-day sun is directly above producing shadows in unwanted places.  

What is fill flash?

The spots in the upper right of this picture tell me that it is time to clean my camera's sensor.

Above: This is another example of fill flash being used on a sunny day. With the sun directly above there was plenty of light on the top of the cows' heads, but I was getting a lot shadows on their faces. By popping up the internal flash on my Canon 30D I was able to get some much needed light on the cows in the areas that needed it.

However (there's that word again), notice how bright the front cow's nose is? Also notice the color of his hair in relation to the cows around him. His nose is bright because the flash hit him square in the nose turning it white. The hair on his forehead looks faded or washed out compared to the deep, rich red tones of the hair on the other cows. To fix this, I should have gone into my menu settings and reduced the power of my internal flash.

Fill flash can save or ruin a picture. Use it carefully.

Is this making sense?

Let me know if this article has been helpful.  Leave a comment below or just say hi and let me know what you're working on.  

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Hi there! I'm Scott. PTMY. Photography is a constant challenge and there is always something to learn - if you want to learn.  For those that do want to learn, I created Picture Power as a resource for you to sharpen your photography skills. If you don't find the answer you're looking for just let me know and together we'll find a way to ignite your inner superhero photography genius. 

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