When you think of a camera flash, you may be picturing the minuscule light-emitting diode that lives in your smartphone camera. You probably get annoyed every time it illuminates and ruins your would-be perfect latte photo. Such a flash can seem to fire without warning, and it always happens when you really didn’t need to be drawing more attention to yourself. Perhaps, you’ve figured out how to turn it off completely — the flash is so bad, you’d rather have the noisy, blurry images that otherwise come out of low-light situations.
But flash photography need not be terrible, even if our early experiences with it tend to preclude us from wanting to try more of it. And learning to do it right — either with better on-camera flash units or expensive off-camera studio strobes — can be challenging. Learning to light with flash means rethinking, to a degree, what you know about exposure — changing your shutter speed, for example, won’t change the effective brightness of the flash. Your camera will likely work differently, too, as flashes put a soft limit on the fastest shutter speed you can use.