Using Flash Outdoors with Your Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D - dummies

Using Flash Outdoors with Your Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

In all modes, the Canon EOS Rebel T3 1100D analyzes light in the background and on the subject, and then calculates exposure and the flash. Although most people think of flash as a tool for nighttime and low-light photography, adding a bit of light from the built-in flash can improve close-ups and portraits that you shoot outdoors during the day.

Your main light source, the sun, is overhead — so although the top of the subject may be adequately lit, the front typically needs some additional illumination. And if your subject is in the shade, getting no direct light, using flash is even more critical.

For example, the following two photos show you the same scene, captured with and without fill flash. The fruit stand was shaded by an awning, so even though it was a bright, cloudless day, you can see how using the built-in flash brings just a smidge more light to the scene and produces a better result:


You do need to be aware of a couple issues that can arise when you supplement the sun with the built-in flash:

  • You may need to make a white balance adjustment. Adding flash may result in colors that are slightly warmer (more yellow/red), as in the flash example here, or cooler (bluish) because the camera’s white balancing system can get tripped up by mixed light sources.

  • You may need to stop down the aperture or lower ISO to avoid overexposing the photo. The top shutter speed for the built-in flash, 1/200 second, may not be fast enough to produce a good exposure in very bright light when you use a wide-open aperture, even if you use the lowest possible ISO setting.

  • If you want both flash and the short depth of field that comes with an open aperture, you can place a neutral density filter over your lens. This accessory reduces the light that comes through the lens without affecting colors. In addition, some Canon external flash units enable you to access the entire range of shutter speeds on the camera.

  • Don’t bother using the built-in flash for landscapes. Unless your subject is within about 12 feet, it’s going to be outside the effective range of the built-in flash.