I will be planning a post in the future with using an external flash for landscape photography once I am able to build up my photos for that. But for now I’d like to talk about using an external flash, or off camera flash, for taking photos of landscape subjects. Most landscape photographers that I know don’t have an external flash and rarely ever, or possibly never use their on camera flash. Why is that? Because landscape photos are mostly taken with natural light. The reason why a flash isn’t as useful in most cases is because the subjects are too far away for a flash to even be beneficial. But what about the close subjects or when doing macro shooting? That’s when a flash can be beneficial.
I decided that before I go out and start using my flash in my landscape shots that I need to do some practicing to get a feel for how it works. So far in testing I have determined that I don’t really care for TTL so much which is basically a smart auto mode for those that don’t know. The flash will “talk” with the camera so the flash will know what power it needs to be at in order to get an accurate exposure. TTL stands for Talk Through the Lens which is basically taking all settings into account such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in order to determine what it needs to do. This is fine for most people but I want some mood in my photos to give them more of an artistic approach. The Above photo was taken with an orange color filter to try to get more of a sunset look to it. I do like the coloring but don’t think it looks quite like a sunset was happening.
Now lets take away the color and look at this photo in B&W. A benefit to using a flash isn’t just being able to evenly illuminate a subject. As you can see the way I had the flash positioned it allowed me to create more of an artistic type photo without much effort. For this photo I was working in my dining room on the table and there were some relatively bright lights on right above my work area. But they did not interfere with my photo. I also used my macro lens to take the photo so I was able to get up close. I think by using a flash when out in the field it may help me to get the types of photos I’m looking for without needing to wait for the right lighting. This can be a huge help. I’ll still use a tripod because I love that for fine focusing, but for the lighting, I can now get virtually any look I want by just changing the power of the flash or re-position it. When it comes down to it, light is light.
But before you decide to just go out and buy a flash, you need to think if it could really benefit your work. While some of them are fairly cheap, the on I got is the Nikon Speedlight SB-700 and that set me back about $330. But I am trying to sell a lens I am no longer use to recoup the costs plus I’m also going to use this for a bit of portrait photography of my kids. So if it is worth the price to you, and you have the patience to learn how to use another piece of photography gear, then I then I think it may be well worth it.