brokenarts's blog

Tutorial 6: Flash is the Evil

posted by brokenarts, Jan 6, 2006 1:06 PM — 100 comments

When you use the flash, the results are always ugly. But you can make some experiments to improve the quality of the light.

The simplest trick is to place a sheet of tissue paper in front of your flash.

Look at the results:

This is a picture taken with the flash (without the sheet).

This is a picture taken placing a sheet of tissue paper in front of the flash.
Do you notice the differences?
Shadows and reflections are smoothed now!

If you don't like the frontal light, and you want to have more light in a side of your subject, you can try another experiment.
Make a cone with a sheet of white paper, and place a tissue paper over the lagest hole.

Now cover the flash with the cone and orient the cone in order to light a side of your subject.

Look at the result:

Now your object is lighted more in one side.

Not a perfect stock photos, but with this experiments you can learn how to manage the lights.

Be creative and try other solutions on your own!

Comments | RSS

1. posted by ladraco, Jan 16, 2006 7:10 AM

Wow. That tissue paper is magic. Must remember.

2. posted by tjabroad, May 3, 2006 5:04 PM

This method does really improve image quality. Hey, for those of you who can't see the examples, there's a small problem with the backend code here, but you can see the pics directly if you use these links. a_1.jpg a_1.jpg a_2.jpg a_3.jpg

Copy and paste them right into your address bar and you can see them, they illustrate the quality gain very well, so it's worth it to take a look.

3. posted by bridalgems, Jan 21, 2006 6:22 PM

Great tips, used the cone for photographing some jewellery with great results. Thanks :-)

4. posted by lomojamie, Jan 19, 2006 10:46 PM

if it is still life, why not use a slow shutter speed with some nice natural light and reflectors, this usually offers me nicer shadows and highlights, especially with b+w. it can be tricky to get right but much less hassel to deal with than standard on camera flash.

5. posted by zbunt, Jan 6, 2006 3:16 PM

Another trick for flash is to put miror to direct light in roof or if you have bounce flash direct it to roof.

I tried with paper but i used colorized paper to gain some effects.

6. posted by DawnAllynn, Jan 6, 2006 8:23 PM

Wonderful ideas, thanks for sharing these :) Now I wanna run home ands try them out!

7. posted by drack, Jan 6, 2006 9:51 PM

Hey, cool trick! simple and functional.
Thanks for sharing =O)

8. posted by cry187, Jan 7, 2006 3:43 AM

this is very useful, haven't tried this one yet since I also try different kind of minimizing the flash effects on certain subject

9. posted by slonecker, Jan 7, 2006 8:34 PM

Flash is only evil if the person using a camera does not know how to use a flash properly.

I do agree that most flashes that are built into today's cameras usually produce marginal results.

Now, off camera flash is a totally different story when used correctly.

10. posted by brokenarts, Jan 9, 2006 1:24 PM

To slonecker: I agree, off camera flash is a totally different story! But my tutorials are for amateurs without a professional equipment. :)
If you have a professional equipment you don't need my tutorials based on "homemade" tools. :)

11. posted by slonecker, Jan 9, 2006 11:30 PM

Davide...Yeah...I do know how to use flash, and it is clear that most newcomers do not. This is why I think what you are posting is a very helpful thing to do.

It is nice to see that there are others besides me who feel that basic tutorials are an important part of a site devoted to photography.

12. posted by brokenarts, Jan 10, 2006 12:06 AM

I apologize for my bad english. When I said "you have a professional equipment" I don't intend to say "you slonecker", but "you" in general, intending all the users of
Read my last post as: "If a user of has a professional equipment..."
I hope I wasn't offensive. Excuse me. My english isn't fluent.

13. posted by thesaint, Jan 11, 2006 6:46 AM

Fan-bloody-tastic! Thanks for this great post.

I don;t have access to fancy equipment so this is just the thing for me!

14. posted by ophelia, Jan 11, 2006 11:27 AM

sei il primo in classifica qui! che figata che sei italiano :D

15. posted by Quevaal, Jan 27, 2006 12:37 PM

Nice tutorial! Flash is indeed a problem.

16. posted by divyesh, Jan 28, 2006 8:39 PM

yo man yo.....

just do it

ultymate trick i m from india and i like ur concept..... have a nice time

ur dvs

17. posted by kkiser, Jan 31, 2006 8:51 PM

I love it! I've tried similar things, but never thought of this. Thanks for the superb examples, too.

18. posted by Jedi_5ive, Feb 2, 2006 7:11 PM

Very nice. Cool DIY tip, always a pleasure to hear DIY tips you can do with your everyday household products that can create elaborate scenes!

19. posted by kozfucker, Feb 2, 2006 9:03 PM

Nice one ;)

20. posted by oscura, Feb 3, 2006 6:26 PM

Very nice tips thank you!

21. posted by fishmonk, Jul 5, 2006 2:03 PM

cigarette papers licked & stuck on a flash diffuse the light well too.

22. posted by jimgun, Feb 8, 2006 9:33 PM

Cool tip.
A few layers of scotch tape (the opaque kind) on a flash works as a nice diffuser as well.

23. posted by Patti, Feb 9, 2006 6:10 AM

That's great - thanks so much for sharing.
The flash drives me nuts - but there are times when you need that little boost of light - and there are times when there may be movement - thanks so much - I'm so all over this!

24. posted by SteveFE, Feb 10, 2006 9:25 PM

Good post! My favourite flash tip has been to bounce it with a business card or small piece of paper. Anything white will do, you can even just hold it in place with one hand. Makes a world of difference with a built-in flash.

25. posted by smurf_the, Feb 13, 2006 11:34 PM

you are a thinker mate, keep it up

26. posted by Lukx, Feb 18, 2006 1:54 PM

You may want to add the File Extensions .jpg to some of the Image links that appear to be broken.
But thanks for all your tutorials! They really help.

27. posted by veave_pl, Feb 20, 2006 1:44 PM

good trick but it's sth wrong with pictures... :(

28. posted by LotusHead, Mar 13, 2006 9:22 AM

Very cool stuff, also thx to lomojamie for the great link.

Nice 1 guys!

29. posted by fivespider, Mar 17, 2006 7:15 PM

Ah, I hate you! I've always loved your photos, now I have to love your tutorials too... :sigh:

Keep up the good work!

30. posted by coronte, Mar 21, 2006 3:32 PM

muito bom!!!! XD

31. posted by conceptbrc, Nov 17, 2007 11:36 PM

great tricks!!!! I've tried all of this and also tried replacing the tissue w/ traslucent color films. some wonderfull effects.

32. posted by sichen, Apr 18, 2006 11:46 PM

Grazie tantissime, i tuoi tutorials sono semplicemente eccezionali, e finalmente comincio a fare qualche foto decente con il flash! Semmai un giorno ti dovessero servire dritte sulla[url='']Cina[/url] , basta che mi conttatti, , e sarò lieto di aiutarti per qualsiasi evenienza :D

33. posted by sichen, Apr 18, 2006 11:55 PM

Accidenti, non sono nemmeno capace di fare pubblicità occulta al mio sito, cmq quello che dicevo prima era serio ;) Se dovessi andare a fare un viaggio in Cina, posso aiutarti in tutto. Sono un vero expert sull'argomento, quasi come te in fotografia :D

34. posted by allolti, Oct 18, 2006 11:41 PM

Thanks mate!!

35. posted by bcygni, Apr 19, 2006 10:55 PM

Thank you! For amateurs like myself, suggestions like this are wonderful!!!!!!

36. posted by fantichi, Apr 20, 2006 2:03 PM

ma che bello!! ho scoperto il tuo blog solo oggi e mi fa piacere vedere che c'è anche qualche italiano che lavora così bene x tutti
buon lavoro :-)

37. posted by MeHere, Apr 21, 2006 8:30 AM

Hey, I gotta try that! Thanks for the photos, and for making the tutorial. (some broken links on the pictures?) Anyway, the important one is there :D

38. posted by Falaschini, May 3, 2006 2:36 PM

Great idea, but hey... Where are the examples?

39. posted by ameenullah, May 5, 2006 8:51 AM

Excellent! I always try with cloth, but never thought of tissue paper. Nice.

40. posted by fueg0, May 16, 2006 12:59 AM

Excelent. But this a common trick that is in every good photo book. I've got more than 5 books about photo and all of them got this trick :-D

41. posted by skrasii, Jun 4, 2006 10:51 AM

Wow, nice work. Only that i can do now is to wate for the evening and realize this tutorial by myself :) Good going!

42. posted by -JACQ-, Jun 23, 2006 4:43 AM

I'm still new to sxc & an amateur at photography, but I'm learning quite a few tips from everyone! Great tip! Will remember for sure! Thanks for sharing.

43. posted by clievers, Jul 20, 2006 9:20 PM

wow. thanks so much for the tips. i'm definitely going to try this.

44. posted by feldmaus, Jul 31, 2006 11:02 AM

Wicked! Thanks for the ideas! :)

More practical photography tuts please!

45. posted by gfalls, Aug 8, 2006 2:17 AM

Very nice effect. Now can you show us the same effect using the built-in flash that 99% of us have. We can't all afford digital SLR's

46. posted by gl3nnx, Sep 3, 2006 10:05 AM

your a genius, this is a great idea for newbie photographers

47. posted by simon90, Sep 6, 2006 2:12 AM

A very good, simple tutorial. It's extremely effective! I myself knew about this nifty trick... so it's great to see it being shared.

48. posted by christeh, Sep 7, 2006 11:59 PM

To user fueg0: he is not saying "oh look at me and the trick I invented!". Im very grateful that he SHARED that to us. Hopes more tutorials come soon!

-Christina from Puerto Rico

49. posted by digital_a, Sep 27, 2006 9:31 PM

Thankx for the tip, it's really useful and works for (low budget) ppl like meeee :)
I really love this kind of tricks which make me get alot out from ma camera...thanx again

50. posted by frmchs311, Oct 7, 2006 3:31 AM

thats awsome ty for the great tips!

51. posted by greatuser, Oct 17, 2006 7:45 AM


52. posted by Robmania, Oct 19, 2006 3:34 PM

Thanks, great tip.

I keep a tissue and an elastic band in my camera case, put the tissue around my camera's flash and wrap elastic band around it so that I have my two hands free.

53. posted by rwjdcom, Oct 29, 2006 10:21 AM

Thanks for these tricks. I will definately try them out.

54. posted by nehle_wolf, Nov 22, 2006 1:51 AM

o man Ive got to try this

thanks alot m8
great tut!

55. posted by dugandog, Nov 29, 2006 9:41 PM

This just simply wowed me. I found this website, then found your incredible photos, then found I could download royalty free, then to top it off, this amazing blog with a wonderful tip... can it get any better? I think my head is going to explode. I'll be back often! Thanks!

56. posted by maviseytan, Dec 11, 2006 3:10 PM

nice tutorial and so happy to see the turkish eye on the cup :)

57. posted by sosebes, Jan 2, 2007 8:07 PM

Simplicity at best. Thanks for the tip

58. posted by abdelmotaa, Jan 11, 2007 11:16 AM

thank you

59. posted by rizalshah, Jan 12, 2007 3:09 PM

Hey there,

As you guys know that in camera flashes are getting more and more powerful (i.e. the new 400D internal flash). I've got a speedlight for mine, but I find creative ways to use your already powerful internal, ie. the way as above, to be very useful in maximizing your potential. It save batteries and takes the time out of mounting the speedlight. BRAVO for you and your creativity!

Peace. rsa

60. posted by jasonlemay, Jan 14, 2007 3:39 AM

I've an external flash and it's awesome ! Just to direct the light on the roof !

But if you can use natural light, don't ask any question and go for it. The sun is our best friend !

Thanks for the tips

61. posted by nzperx, Jan 30, 2007 9:44 PM


62. posted by azvin, Feb 9, 2007 2:58 PM

Great!!!...I was looking for a tip like this...Thanks!!!

63. posted by rimzin, Feb 13, 2007 7:18 PM


64. posted by permomo, Feb 26, 2007 8:44 PM

i miei più sentiti complimenti e l'ugurio che il talento sia sempre affiancato dalla bravura.Momo della

65. posted by Roaminoz, Mar 9, 2007 9:00 AM

I must go try this. My photos always end up with heaps too much light. Thanks

66. posted by quirolant, Mar 16, 2007 8:53 PM


67. posted by antinormal, Mar 24, 2007 1:10 AM

Yes... yes, flash is the evil, i agree. I saw a flash the other day that was stealing some old lady's handbag, then he KICKED her. I thought "Gee... gee, that flash sure was evil."
Then i got stoned.

68. posted by scooterboy, Apr 25, 2007 8:27 PM

True, true antinormal, but then you have to remember that most Flashes come from socially deprived backgrounds. It's not fair to judge all flashes and say that they are all the evil, because some of them are the good, too.

69. posted by Meranda, May 2, 2007 7:52 PM

Wow! This is a really incredible find for me. I am beyond ecstatic! I have a digital SLR, but no access or budget for external lighting. The built-in flash on it is absolutely horrible! I was taking photos in the dark with prolonged exposure on a tri-pod to get . So glad to find this -- these are excellent ideas! :) Thanks sio much for sharing!

70. posted by eshlin, May 5, 2007 2:56 PM

cool man!

71. posted by FABIAN158, May 10, 2007 7:19 PM

Very good the photos.
This one is my link: 58

72. posted by fishmonk, May 17, 2007 10:06 PM

U can also try licking a rizla & sticking it over the flash -means U don't have to hold anything - & they are ultra portable & can be bought anywhere.

73. posted by mafdet, May 27, 2007 6:43 PM

Excellent. As a beginner this is a very useful tip for me.

74. posted by allenp, Jun 30, 2007 11:10 AM


75. posted by kgsomaraj, Jul 15, 2007 8:30 AM

Your tutorial is fantastic because even the novice can understand it.
i think you can give a tutorial on photographic tent which will be useful for photographing metallic and glass objects

76. posted by rangakr, Jul 26, 2007 6:46 AM

hi, Fatastic idea. Need more and more ideas from you on Photography. Thanks a lot.

77. posted by TallMike, Aug 5, 2007 11:34 PM

Seems like a great and cheap replacement for a flash gun! Nice :D

78. posted by asifthebes, Aug 8, 2007 9:25 AM

Great technique. I was really bugged with flash & this trick will definately get rid out of it.
thanks. Do suggesting such useful stuff.

79. posted by rachel88, Aug 29, 2007 9:45 AM

Dear Davide
You are a fantastic photographer with a big heart! I like your sense of humour, too!

80. posted by nikebaba, Sep 2, 2007 1:00 PM

Good work ...

81. posted by owaisk_4u, Sep 19, 2007 4:58 PM

het guyz i think flash tube is damage with this trick

82. posted by sxchuman, Sep 20, 2007 2:05 PM

Excellent. As a beginner this is a very useful tip for me.

83. posted by Eza1992, Oct 22, 2007 4:08 PM

This tutorial is very useful, thanks for sharing it. :)

84. posted by carlos24, Oct 31, 2007 9:28 AM

Thanks, really intuitive...But dont must flash heads come with a swivel and bounce features??

85. posted by arinas74, Nov 7, 2007 4:43 PM

Thanks for this great trick. I can't wait to try it myself this afternoon at home.

86. posted by magicart, Feb 8, 2008 2:47 AM

So nice, so didactic. Thanks for sharing!!!

87. posted by bobojojo, Dec 18, 2009 12:45 PM

Great tip bro!

88. posted by devorah18, Jun 4, 2008 4:56 PM

Good stuff. I try to use existing light wherever possible, but it's not always an option :-)

89. posted by steavan, Jun 25, 2008 5:11 AM

brilliant.. thnx, because i have a problem with flash..hehe

90. posted by abejo, Aug 1, 2008 1:51 PM

Hey, thanks for the tip. I am one of many beginners that can only benefit from the pros in this site!

91. posted by gumuruhssp, Sep 28, 2008 4:43 PM

great deal
for a simple tips :D

92. posted by artifexus, Jan 24, 2009 11:00 PM

Really simple tips, thanks!

93. posted by bijancha, Mar 12, 2009 8:27 AM


94. posted by cballiet, Jul 11, 2009 5:19 PM

I just wanted to stop by and say that I love your portfolio.

95. posted by escan, Aug 19, 2010 11:35 AM

Thanks for the GREAT tip :)

96. posted by modupeinc, May 2, 2013 9:46 PM

Cool tips. thank you!

97. posted by renderiska, Jun 21, 2013 5:40 AM

Real good!

98. posted by carlislekm, Jul 29, 2013 4:36 AM

Very interesting

99. posted by Black-tie, Aug 25, 2013 5:06 AM

great ideas

100. posted by inizjall, Nov 6, 2013 3:28 AM

good explanation

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