Monday, August 27, 2012

Decent Photos using Built-in Flash?

Is it possible for us mortal hobbyists?

YES! Built-in flash usually gets a bad rep for producing unflattering photos, but here's a neat trick I learned from my friends Trisha and Nix: use a handy dandy white card in front of the flash!

Like so! (Pardon the webcam photo, haha)

What the card does is direct the light from the flash to a different direction (depending on how you tilt the card), diffusing the light in the process. This is very useful for people like me who don't have a lot of lighting equipment at their disposal.

Here's a before and after example:

Not bad, right? ^u^

The downside to this trick is that it's very inconsistent. Sometimes it takes dozens of test shots before you finally achieve the effect you're looking for. However, inconsistency can also be transformed into flexibility! Just experiment! :D

Here are some sample shots taken using this technique, using various positions of the card. As you can see, the overall effect differs with the change of setting as well.

The card was farther from the flash in the second photo, which made the light reflect on the surrounding objects more than the first photo. See how the overall color of the second photo is affected because of the color of the surrounding objects?

The card was positioned farther from the flash in the first photo. There was a TV on the left side, and since its surface is glass, the light from the flash reflected quite strongly onto Blair. It actually looks almost like sunlight!

Some pointers:

1. From my experience, this works best when done indoors.
2. I find that doing this trick works best for tighter shots like macros and close-ups.
3. The size, color, positioning and tilt of the card can have varied effects, like using a pink card will give a pink cast to the photo. I prefer using a plain white card so it won't give off a colored cast.
4. The available ambient light, the color of the surrounding objects and how you hold your camera (portrait, landscape, near, far) also produce different results.
5. Patience is key.

I hope this helps even though I feel my explanations were a little vague. Feel free to ask if you have any questions. XD

Happy shooting! ^o^


  1. OMG woooooow.. * A * ) some actually looks like they were shot with natural light from a outside source, like a window. This is very helpful for people like me who are deathly afraid of taking photos with flash! n w n )/

  2. Nick Chou2:45 AM

    Ironically I have lots of cards here at home. My flash however is at the left so I better try this out.

    My uncle does something like this but he just TAPES it to his camera XD. Hahahaha

    Thanks for this Kass!

  3. Yes! It's a really neat trick. Glad I could help! :D

  4. Oooh do tell me how it works with a point-and-shoot camera! I've only had experience using a DSLR.

    You're welcome! :D

  5. It's the best thing since toasted bread with melted cheese. ;w;

  6. PrincessVictoria3:08 AM

    Woah! I think this helps a lot for taking phtos. Thanks <3

  7. You're welcome!

  8. I personally love using this trick XD Even professionals use a similar trick; I remember a photographer friend who had this weird little half cover on his flash, turns out it was a diffuser of sorts.

    Fun little trick I also learned from you XD Bond paper on the surface of where you're taking the photo but out of frame really helps in adding that fill brightness around the subject. I imagine this is really useful for BJD photography since it lets those hard to see and often shadowed areas of the face-up show up a little bit more :p

    Can't wait to try this next time I decide to take photos of my figures. I miss photography...

  9. Wow! Just tried it... This is so neat! Thank you so much... =3

  10. Oh wow I would never have thought of doing that, thank you :)

  11. I'm glad it worked for you. :D

  12. Lol bond paper as reflector technique? Yeah I like that, too. It's useful when there's actual light but it casts shadows on areas you want to highlight more. XD

  13. On the other hand, here's something you can also try.

  14. Try Styrofoam boards. they work better in diffusing AND reflecting light

  15. Oh cool, thanks for these!

  16. Heather10:49 PM

    This is an awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Do you mind if I link to this in my blog post tomorrow? I really like sharing tips and tricks with my readers! I, of course, will link to your blog... and no, no hot linking! (I won't use any of your imagery... just a link back here as a "helpful tip" kinda thing. :)

  17. You're welcome. :)

  18. I don't mind at all! Go ahead. :D

  19. Zombina1:30 PM

    This is very helpful. Thanks for sharing ^__^

  20. You're welcome :D


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