May 6th, 2018

Take Better Match and Gun Range Photos with Fill Flash

camera daylight fill flash shootingWe know you guys like taking photos of your rifles at the range. And, if you’re selling a rifle, scope, front rest, or rear bag, you need good photos to post in our Forum classifieds. Here’s a basic photography tip that can help you produce dramatically better photos. Use your camera’s ability to add “fill flash” even in daylight.

There’s plenty of light on a bright day. But bright light also means strong shadows. The shadows can leave parts of your subject literally in the dark. Daylight flash will help fill in those dark spots. In addition, if you are on a covered firing area, and want to include the range in your photo, you can benefit from using flash. This will prevent the foreground subject from being too dark while the downrange background is much too bright.

Photo without Flash

The photo above was taken without flash. As you can see, the rifle is too dark so details are lost. At the same time, the background (downrange) is over-exposed and washed out. The second photo below is taken with daylight flash. The difference is dramatic. Now you can see details of the rifle, while the background is exposed properly. Note how much easier it is to see the the targets downrange and the colors of the front rest. NOTE: these two photos were taken at the same time — just seconds apart.

Photo with Daylight “Fill-Flash”

Be sure to click on the larger versions of each photo.

How to Activate Daylight Flash
Most digital cameras have daylight flash capability. Some cameras have a separate setting for “auto fill flash”. On other cameras, you’ll have to set the camera to aperture priority and stop down the aperture to force the flash to fire. Read your camera’s manual. On many Canons, a menu that lets you set the “flash output”. For “fill flash” we like to set the flash at 30% to 50% output. This fills in the shadows sufficiently without “killing contrast” or creating too much reflection on shiny metal. Below is a photo taken with 30% flash output. Note the rich colors and how the exposure is balanced between foreground and background. Without flash the sky and target area would be “washed out”.


Here’s another tip for Canon owners. If you like deep, rich colors, use the “Vivid” setting in the effects menu. This punches up saturation and contrast.

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