Turn off your flash (SLR camera)

SLR camera? Huh? What’s that? It stands for Single Lens Reflex. It’s all those digital cameras where you can change the lenses and stuff. The bigger cameras. Got one? The Canon Rebel, 20D, 30D, etc…

Well, this week, we’re talking about artificial flash versus natural light. Flash is not bad. No it’s not. Sometimes it’s actually fantastic, fabulous, and necessary. But not all the time. I prefer to use natural light as much as possible when shooting pictures of my little ones. It just looks better, more natural and not as bright and white and washed out. The problem is that many of these cameras that I’m sure lots of you are using have the flash in use all the time (especially when they’re set on auto). Let’s fix that.

I love love my SLR camera. Step by step if you get to know your camera it can do so much for you…so much of what you want to do and what you desire to create. But it can also be quite overwhelming. So we’re going to take it one step at a time. Today, this week, we’re going to focus on flash and ISO. So, try something with me… For one week, turn off your flash (for the most part, except when you really need it…like in the dark) and let’s try to take some great pictures using natural light.

Here’s a little video (raw and unedited…get used to it…this is the only way i’m going to do video) on how to not use your flash and to change your ISO. Check it out.

video notes:

step one: set camera dial (circle dial on top of camera) to [P] mode

step two: press ISO button (usually on top of camera)

step three: press up and down (usually on backside of camera) to select the appropriate ISO

step four: take a picture

ISO speeds (just Cori’s rough recommendation)

ISO 100 – outside, sunny day

ISO 400 – outside, cloudy day

ISO 800 – inside or outside but starting to get dark

ISO 1600 – inside, not bright light

This picture below is shot with a Canon Rebel on auto with the little pop up flash.

This pic below is shot with a Canon Rebel on [P] with no flash and an ISO of 1600.  (sorry I know the subject (my son) isn’t real excited about life, but it’s just an example of a more balanced picture…you can actually see the background rather than it being a bright boy and dark background. It shows how it actually looked outside at the time.)

Please let me know if you have questions or if something doesn’t make sense to you. Any other topics you’d like me to cover? If there’s a flash free picture that you took and you’d like to show me, email it to me. I’d love to see it.


  1. shara on January 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    yay! so excited to try this! thanks for helping us figure out how to use our cameras! :)

  2. jaime on January 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks soooo much, I got a Cannon for christmas and LOVE it and have slowly been playing around, but don’t exactly know how to get it to do what I want it to do…..can’t wait to here what else you have to teach!!!

  3. George Lake on January 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Nice! A simple site where we can learn complex stuff!
    Congrats. Say hi top Phil (I worked with him at V1 some time ago).
    I have a Canon Powershot SI590. Nice camera, very flexible. It´s hacked with CHDK http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

    Looking forward for more posts……

    Regards from Santiago, Chile