Flash Tip For Good Exposure

Flash, or speed lights in photography, can help when exposing for both foreground and background elements. Have you ever taken a photograph exposing for indoor lighting, only to find that you lose all the beautiful color and detail seen through the window? This simple flash tip can eliminate that problem.

You can see in the photo below that the interior of the hotel room is perfectly exposed but the scene outside, which would be a major selling point to the hotel chain, is overexposed and washed out.

Using flash would have exposed the scene outside.

If you, as a professional photographer, presented the above image to the hotel management I don’t think they would be pleased with your work. Conversely, even if you are simply taking the image for your own memory of a holiday or other visit, I’m sure you would not feel good taking a shot such as this.

There are two ways around exposure this problem

Firstly you can take two exposures, one for inside and the other for outside. Then blend them together in post processing. Or alternatively, if you own a flash you could expose for outdoors, then use your flash to light up the interior.

Here was my technique for the image you see below.

  • I set manual mode on the camera and rotated my external flash so it was at a 45 degree angle to the roof. I zoomed into the blue ocean outdoors and took an exposure reading, underexposing by -1.
  • Why -1 exposure? It was quite a bright sunny day outside and I find water color is much nicer when underexposed.
  • Now I reframed the shot and focused indoors, this time leaving the exposure line as is. (I’ve already set it for outdoors).
  • Then I simply turned the flash on and took the shot. This way, the camera exposed for outdoors and the flash compensated for the indoor lighting.

Flash made sure the inside of the room was exposed perfectly with the background.
Remember, first expose for the background then use your flash to lighten the foreground.

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