Lighting – Flash
Most DSLR's these days come with a built in pop up flash. By the time you move past knowing just the basics you will realize that this is not adequate. There are many reasons why:
1 The flash is always going to point directly at your subject - you can't vary the direction the light it is coming from.
2 The flash is going to explode straight onto your subject with all the harshness of an erupting volcano. When you begin to understand about light you will realize that harsh light isn't the photographers friend. (See our section on "flash diffusers")
3 The power of the built in flash is limited.
4 [Insert any one of hundreds more reasons]
There are many types of lighting and light modifiers at the photographers disposal, but for the beginner to intermediate options we'll limit ourselves to external flashguns.
Bart's sidekick C S Wimsey has 2 flashguns. One is a Nikon own brand flash ("speedlight"), the other is by the German brand Metz which make flashguns compatible with all models of camera - you just need to make sure you buy the right model for your brand of camera! It may surprise you to know that C S Wimsey significantly prefers her Metz flashgun to Nikon's own brand. The Metz flashgun gives more power for the money, and has a much easier touch screen interface to operate it.
Metz Flashgun - For All Camera Brands
We love our Metz. Bart's sidekick owns a Metz flashgun and wouldn't be without it. She reports you get much more flash for your money and it has a really logical interface. There are several flashguns in the Metz range, all at different prices to suit different budgets. As the price goes down, so does the functionality and power - but if you're new to flash, you won't need a really "flashy" gun. One thing that is worth considering though is whether your preferred model allows you to "tilt" the flash head both vertically and/or sideways. This will enable you to use "bounce flash", and thus avoid a blast of light obliterating your subject. Light can nicely be bounced of walls and ceilings softening it, and producing an affect that you would get if the light was coming, for example, from a window.
Just make sure if you have a Nikon camera body to order the right model designed for Nikon, if you use Canon to do likewise for Canon etc. Then sit back and enjoy...
Nikon "Speedlight" - Nikon Fit
As with Metz there are many flashguns in the Nikon range, to suit different budgets and needs. When choosing a flashgun from the Nikon range the same considerations that we have explained to the left under the Metz brand apply.
As we have already explained Bart's sidekick C S Wimsey owns a Nikon flash as well as a Metz. She finds she uses her Metz gun far more because it is easier to use and more powerful for less money. It can however be really useful to own 2 flashguns. You can get some great shots with lighting coming from different directions by using your flashguns "off camera", albeit you'll need to consult your camera and flash manuals!