Lighting Conditions: Part 2


grainy film photo

When do I use the flash?

Hi guys! So the reason why I actually decided to write a part 2 of lighting was because after much experimentation coupled with a bunch of people asking me about this, I felt that this was a pretty important point to highlight because as mentioned in the my first lighting guide, I mentioned that as a beginner, you should ALWAYS USE YOUR FLASH.

However, there will come a time when you’ve gotta decide for yourself if the lighting is good enough to take a photo without a flash or not, because as much as you don’t want an underexposed photo, you don’t want an overexposed one as well right? 

When should you NOT use a flash?

#1. When the NATURAL lighting is good

And keyword here would be NATURAL

clear film photo of old movie theatre in thailand

film photo of many houses and clouds in vietnam

These photos were taken when the sun wasn’t shining brightly, but it still came out pretty good. The sun doesn’t have to be shining bright in order for you not to use a flash. It just has to be sufficiently well lit, like what you see in the photos above.

#2. When it’s dark and you want to take scenery

Okay I learnt this the hard way. I wanted to take this:

a river in the middle of a town in japan during winter with sakuras and dry branches


But what I got was this:grainy photo of a river flowing through one of kyoto's town

So yeah lesson learnt NO TAKING PHOTOS OF SCENERY AT NIGHT. Simple as that.

The reason I believe I’ve explained in my first guide but just to reiterate: so my explanation for this is very physics-based. Think of light as photons (or waves whichever you fancy there’s a whole discussion on this) that bounces off your subject and back to your camera and onto your film, creating that photo on your film. Now if your subject is far away it’s gonna take a longer time for the photons to reach. By the time they do reach the camera, your shutter speed might have closed. Keep in mind that it’s 1/140 of a second, which is approximately 0.007 seconds. Now yeah light is fast, but not all the photons will make it back, resulting in that blurry photo.

#3. In front of mirrors

mirror shot using a disposable camera with flash on

PLEASE DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID. Picture speaks for itself.

Now we’re gonna talk about when TO use a flash.

#1. When you’re taking photos of close objects in bad/dark lighting

film photo of guy sitting back in a bar using flash

I would recommend to distance yourself about 1.5m away from your subject. The package says 3m but honestly I get the best results being 1.5m away. I’d say a general rule of thumb is: 

If there isn’t natural light shining in, use your flash to create light. So yeah you don’t have to be outdoors to NOT use the flash. You can be indoors and still not use the flash as long as there’s a good amount of natural sunlight.

That’s all folks thanks for reading!

Happy shooting!



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