Fill Flash in Photography: Get Useful Tips and Tricks

Fill Flash in Photography

Fill flash! What does it mean? It’s nothing but a photography technique in which the camera flash is deployed to illuminate the darker areas of an image, especially the subject. When the subject is underexposed due to the deficit of sunlight and other lights or sometimes due to the backlight, fill flash is supplemented to correctly expose the subject. For many photographers, using fill flash is a daunting task as they apprehend overexposure of a photo. But with the appropriate use of a fill flash, you can nail your photography.

Amid a bright sunny day, many photographers show reservations to take shots. As a matter of fact, fill flash can produce a stellar outcome if leveraged deftly and accurately. No matter how the subject looks like, the utilization of the fill flash can ramp up the overall aesthetic of a portrait and provide a high-end vibe.

On top of that, it’s also not an uphill task to avail of the fill flash. In order to make the fill flash fruitful, proper planning and care are required as it’s not just turning on the flash on any circumstance and leaving it on inconsiderately.

How to Enhance your Photos with Fill Flash

You can easily fathom that fill flash is handy for both portraiture and macro photography. But do you know that fill flash is also conducive for landscape photography? It may sound unlikely but it’s a fact.

A seasoned snapper with an appropriate technique can make use of the fill flash for landscape photography. Proper utilization of the fill flash will sparkle the foreground eliminating the shadows from it. Let’s take a look at how fill flash can improve different types of photography, including portrait, macro, and landscape.


When it comes to portraits, fill flash can spice up them by ironing out the unwanted shadows and dark circles under the eyes of your subject. On top of that, it can evenly scintillate your subject on luminous and shiny days.


Focus on keeping it Subtle: One of the key factors you should consider while using fill flash is naturalism. You certainly don’t want your subject to look unrealistic due to a superfluous light.

If you are shooting outdoor, don’t rival the sun rather try to complement the sunlight by adjusting the intensity of the fill flash. In order to adjust the intensity, dial down the flash power. You can also contemplate using a diffuser to achieve a natural image.

Place the Subject in an Angling Position with the Sun: To portray a mind-blowing portrait using the fill flash, angle the sun with respect to the subject- place the subject in such a way so that the sun is behind the back of the subject.

With this placement, the sun will reflect more light on the hair and also catchlight on the eyes. As a whole, you can notice a mesmerizing portrait.

Make Use of a Reflector: Along with using a fill flash, you can take advantage of a reflector to ramp up the glow of the subject’s face. The reflector functions to bounce the flash or ambient light back onto the subject’s face.

This is a precious and handy tool to enhance the overall look of the subject due to its ability to reflect even lighting on the subject.

Macro Photos

When you are taking macro shots, natural lighting is adequate but fill flash can come in handy to take out the minute details of the shots. The macro photos are close-up shots and appear to be of the same size as the objects.

Fill flash helps to banish the shadows letting the photos come to life. In addition, it gives you an avenue to customize the light in order to reap the shots you aspire for.

Macro Photo

Think over the Flash Gun: For macro photography, the built-in camera flash isn’t the right one to shoot a masterpiece. Even though you can obtain good results with an on-camera flash, an external flash gun can get you the supreme output. This is because an off-camera flashgun is movable which you can position anywhere you wish depending on the requirements of your shots.

Adjust Natural Light with the Flash: The output of your shot will not pan out unless you balance your flash with the existing natural light. With the compatible balance of both flash and natural light, you can produce a breathtaking and realistic macro photo.

In order to derive the best upshot, you can go for a 30% flash and 70% natural light. Don’t hold back to experiment by dialing down the flash as it will let you understand and figure out the correct ratio.

Ponder over the Flash Bracket: This device is very popular among wedding and event photographers. But photographers also deploy it for macro photography.

The objective of this device is to keep the flash in a vertical position even when the camera is turned sideways. Unless you leverage the flash bracket, the flash may produce unusual vertical shadows on the subject. One of the upsides of this device is, it lets you operate faster and this is key for shooting fast-moving insects.

You may also read: Macro Photography Gears, Accessories, Equipments, and Essentials

Landscape Photography

Most of the snappers prefer confining the use of a flash only to the studio. A fill flash, however, can even spice up the outdoor photos. With the integration of both natural light and flash, you can bring out the optimal output. No wonder you have to also make sure the right camera settings to achieve your prospective results.

Landscape Photography

Make Use of the Fill Flash to Sparkle the Foreground: No wonder a flash can’t scintillate the entire landscape. So, you have to take advantage of it shrewdly. You should look to brighten some parts of the area, especially, the foreground. In order to induce that, you can use a camera flashlight, as it will give you more comfort to place the device as you think is proper.

Gels are Conducive for the Color Temperature Adjustment: Many a time, cool colors don’t work for your landscape shots and you require warm colors to spice up them. This is where lighting gels come into play as they will allow you to adjust the color temperature in your photos. With warm colors like red, yellow, and orange, you can portray an amazing landscape composition.

Focus on the Natural Look: Getting the natural look of a photo is something every photographer aspires. The perfect time to achieve the benefit of a flash is to shoot just before the sunrise and just after the sunset. In such situations, you should set the flash low along with lighting gels to derive the maximum benefit of a flash. Don’t forget to experiment with your flash to notch up a warmer and natural appearance.

When Should You Use Fill Flash in Photography

You have to ask yourself 3 questions before you decide to use the fill flash. Is there a shadow on the subject? Is the light behind the subject more than in front? Are you close enough to use fill flash? Alright, when a person is tuned up for being snapped, it’s nothing unnatural that a shadow can fall on the entire him or a part of him. This is where fill flash comes into play.

For example, if a person gears up to be shot wearing a cap outdoor amid sunlight, the shadow of the cap will fall across his eyes. Fill flash will illuminate this darker area and even out the exposure across the subject.

Next, if the presence of light is more behind than in the front, the photo you will capture will be underexposed. You may view this difference with your naked eye but the camera is not able to read this like your eyes. Last but not least is your distance from the scene.

Even if the first 2 situations exist in your photography scene, if you are not adjacent to the subject, the positive impact of the fill flash in your subject is unlikely. This is because your built-in flash is capable of illuminating a subject 9 feet away from your indoor. When it comes to outdoor and scintillating locations, the distance can get a bit higher due to the availability of lights.

How should you Use Fill Flash?

You have predominantly two options for using Fill Flash- a built-in camera flash and an external dedicated flashgun. If you use a pop-up camera flash, you will have a flash mode called “Fill in”.  Generally, the camera feeds an automatic amount of flash when a scene is snapped but depending on the camera, you can even manually operate the flash output. The mode can be selected either from an on-camera button or from the menu.

When it comes to deploying an external dedicated flashgun, there are basically 2 options. If you leverage the camera’s dedication, it will dispatch information to the external flashgun on how much light to output.

In this particular mode, you will set the “fill in” mode from the camera menu and capture it in one of the camera’s auto modes. The upside of the dedicated mode is, it can work out the accurate flash output if the subject has a varying distance. Contrariwise, it also has a downside if there is an alteration in the other light sources. This alteration will impact the final exposure of a photo.

The second option you have is to use the manual flash. In this mode, you can set a power level to output a particular amount of light in shooting. In order to get the right balance in a manual flash, you have to do a bit of an experiment.

This mode is a tricky one when the subject moves position as you have to reset and adjust the power level to maintain the correct exposure. But in the case of a subject that barely moves, manual flash is a handy one to leverage as you will notch up both a consistent exposure and a consistent white balance.

What’s the Issue in Fill Flash?

The major problem you will encounter while using fill flash is when ambient light is behind the subject. This will result in a silhouette- a dark shape of the image that you will view. When you are using the auto-mode, the camera is likely to detect the superfluous amount of light coming into the camera and thinks the flash is redundant. But in fact, you require to use flash. You may think using flash can botch the photo exposure but the output comes out far better than expected.

Before you deploy flash, it’s key to ruminate on the scene you intend to capture. Based on the scene and subject, you may require to use the flash or may not. There a number of occasions when using flash is not only pointless but also can wreck your image.

For example, snapping a scene amid sunlight may not always require you to leverage flash but yet produce magnificent outcomes. On the contrary, if you intend to capture someone or something in a relatively scanty light, you have to avail flash to focus and brighten your subject or the entire scene.

Do you think fill flash is a piece of cake? Certainly, not! It’s a delicate matter which should be deployed based on the locations. It requires skill and experience to take advantage of this technique. This is because the intensity of the flash varies based on the presence of light no matter whether it’s natural or artificial light.

So, before you make use of this method, you should have the idea of a scene, how much light is required for the correct exposure, what should be the ratio of the flash in a combination of other lights. As a whole, if you encounter a situation that demands the use of a flash to shoot the scene splendidly, you should confidently leverage the fill flash.