But Robin asked:
What if you find the flash (indoors, at night) is washing your subject out? I've tried it without a flash but then the exposure is too long to be practical and things come out all blurry. With the flash I'm taking pictures of pasty white ghosts. Help please!
Ahhh, yes...flash wash-out is the risk you run when using the flash all the time. However, it can often be avoidable...the key is you don't want your flash to be the MAIN source of light. When shooting outdoors during daylight hours, the sun is obviously the main source of light. The flash then serves to even out shadows; photographers call a similar technique "fill flash" because you are filling in those dark spaces with light.
But what if you're shooting indoors? Open up the blinds if it is during the day, turn on all the lights. Do whatever you can to get as much light on your subject so that your flash isn't the main source of light. If that isn't sufficient to reduce the wash-out, try taking a step or two back so that the light from the flash isn't as concentrated. I know, is is in direct opposition to my first photo tip which was to compose your image and then take one pace forward. However, if you find you have to take a step backwards to reduce flash wash-out, you can compensate for that by using your zoom feature to get that composition back where it had been. I wish there were a specific formula I could give you, but we are all shooting here with different camera styles and brands here; individual flashes may be calibrated differently, depending upon the manufacturers' anticipated use/target audience for that particular unit. Play around with the technique, see what works and what doesn't. And feel free to send me some of the results if you'd like me to help troubleshoot with you.
Ultimately, the sad fact is, sometimes your photos will have that washed out effect, because sometimes there just isn't enough light other than the flash. When that happens to me I shrug my shoulders and acknowledge that even the most fabulous professional fashion photographers take "snapshots."
In the Fast Lane kindly shared with me a couple of photos of her gorgeous family. I've picked one of the incredible Violet...here is the original:It is a beautiful shot as is, lovely subject, setting, and overall very evocative....but I do think we could make it a bit better. Here's the image after doing my best to Photoshop taking a step forward and adding a fill flash: Now we can see Violet's pretty face, and some of the extraneous stuff that isn't really part of the subject matter is eliminated. I really like it like this. I luuuuuuuuuuuurve window seats and keeping that context visible makes it a really sweet, cozy scene. It tells a story.
However, I am not one known for leaving well enough alone, so I went ahead and "took" the picture vertically:
It's got a totally different feel, doesn't it? I had to essentially take another step forward for this one, just because I was working in the digital world not the real world. I like this version as well; while it doesn't tell the story because all background is gone, it is a lovely photograph of a beautiful girl. We focus now more on her face, her gestures, her body language.
Send me your pictures, and happy shooting!