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Portraits: Making the Shot is bursting at the seams with practical and down to earth portrait photography advice, tips and imagery. It has been created to do one thing, transform your dull and lifeless pictures of people into beautiful works of art.
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  Digital Photography School's Quick Guide to Mastering Portraits.

The Flash

The next thing you will need to understand is the digital flash. Your camera will most likely be equipped with an onboard flash that you can easily learn to use. There are more advanced flash controls on many cameras, and we will discuss them in depth later. For now, let’s just talk about flash basics.

If you have your camera on automatic mode, the flash will turn itself on if it is needed. Some modes will automatically turn off the flash, like sports and action. For the most part, in these situations, the camera will choose whether or not you need a flash. Honestly, though, cameras are no more perfect than you or I. For that reason, you may have to change the flash settings from time to time.

The controls to change the flash will generally be an in camera option. You will need to look at the screen to find this. Look for something that looks like a little lightning bolt. On many SLR cameras, you can also change the flash setting with buttons on the side of the body near the lens. Either way, you should be able to locate the flash controls fairly easily.

Most cameras will give you a few choices for flash controls. The first will be automatic. This will allow the camera to always decide whether or not to use the digital flash. The next two are generally always on or always off so that you can determine whether or not you use the flash at all. This can be useful if you are in a situation where flash photography is not allowed.

SLR cameras will give you another option for the digital flash. If you look on top of the camera body above the built in flash, you will see what looks like a metal fitting. This metal device is called a “hot shoe.” This is where you can connect a detachable flash if you would prefer. This will give you even more detailed control over the lighting used for the image. For example, hot shoe flashes will often allow you to change the direction of the flash itself. Why would you need to do this? Consider the following scenario.

If you are taking a picture of a person at fairly close range and you use a standard flash, often the flash will wash out the subject. They will look pale or the picture may be too washed out to even see their facial features. With a directional flash, you can actually point it toward the ceiling and the light will bounce off of the ceiling then back down to the subject for a more clearly lit, detailed image.


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