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Chapter 4. How to Use Your Flash > Flash Modes: More Than Meets the (Red) Eye

Flash Modes: More Than Meets the (Red) Eye

Now that you know where the flash button is, you'll be able to unlock the power hidden in your camera's flash. Most digital cameras offer a variety of flash modes, only a few of which mere mortals ever use. But you're turning into a photographic expert, so here's an explanation of what you can find under your camera's hood.

TIP

Not all cameras have all these modes. You can select flash modes via an on-camera button or through your camera's menus depending on the model.


  • Automatic. This is the main setting. The camera decides when flash is needed, and it goes off automatically. Use Automatic when you need to take shots without thinking about lighting levels.

  • Red-Eye Reduction. Selecting this mode causes the strobe to send out several short bursts of light followed by a longer flash. This constricts the pupils in your subject's eyes and can help lessen red-eye.

  • Flash-On. Also called Fill Flash, this setting tells the camera to fire the flash even when there is plenty of ambient light. Why would you want to do this? Check out “Fill in the Blanks,” below.

  • Flash-Off. The PhotoCoach's personal favorite, this shuts off the flash.

  • Slow Sync. Usually only found on accessory strobes, Slow Sync is great to use at night. With it, the camera starts off taking a long exposure and then fires the strobe to give the scene a little more kick. This is great for creating special effects (see Chapter 11).

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