Macro with flash or without?

Started Feb 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 3,632
Re: Macro with flash or without?

Mikeywcu wrote:

I find myself wondering to what extent flash makes a difference.

The very short duration of normal, (i.e. non-FP) flash freezes motion. This is good when subjects are moving, either because the subject itself is moving around or what it is standing on is moving. This is particularly marked for smaller subjects/higher magnification/fast moving subjects/breezy conditions. It is also good for working hand-held because the freezing effect avoids the effects of hand-shake, which become particularly marked as magnification increases.

(The situation is not so clear cut with FP flash, for which the flash is on during the whole exposure.)

Flash makes it more practical to use smaller apertures to get more dof, especially when light levels are not so good, and lets you use low ISOs. Or putting it another way, flash lets you work in lower ambient light levels.

However, flash can change the look of images, for example making backgrounds go very dark or black. I happen to be not too keen on this look (with some, oddly enough, natural light exceptions with plant images) and so I use natural light more often than I use flash. Given that I use very small apertures to maximise dof, and I often shoot in not very good light, I often end up using slow exposures (which produce high failure rates), high volumes of captures (to compensate for the high failure rates), a tripod (which is awkward and slow even though I don't use a "normal" tripod approach or a normal tripod) and high ISOs (which make PP more involved). So (for me) using natural light increases the amount of work needed to get nice images in terms of capturing, sifting/selection and PP.

Even with well-controlled diffusion and/or reflection, flash can leave its imprint as reflections on shiny surfaces. Again, this is a matter of taste, but I prefer not to see this effect in my images (for example in insect's eyes or on shiny bodies). Somewhat inconsistently, I don't mind too much if I get the same effect from the Sun.

In bright conditions fill flash can even out lighting and makes shots practical that would in natural light have too high a dynamic range to produce a nice result.

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