Shoe Mounted Flash Photography

When using a digital camera for the first time, it will be important to determine what type of flash options you will have at your disposal. One of the best options for taking flash photographs will be a shoe mounted flash. When we discuss shoe mounted photography, it is first and foremost important to note that this has absolutely nothing to do with the shoes that you wear on your feet. When dealing with cameras, the "shoe" is the shortened form of "Hot Shoe," which is the connector at the top of your camera that allows you to connect an external flash.

External Flashguns

Aside from using the built-in flash that comes standard on most low to mid-range digital cameras, flash photography incorporating an external flashgun is probably the most common form of flash photography. Many digital cameras will come packaged with an external flashgun that is proprietary for that camera model. Additionally, you can purchase different flashguns, producing a wide variety of flash effects depending on the conditions that you will be shooting in.

If the manufacturer of your camera makes dedicated external flashguns, it is often a good idea to purchase that brand of flash, since it will be made specifically for your brand of camera. Hot shoes are made to be used with all brands of flash, however, so if your manufacturer does not make external flashguns, or if you simply prefer a different brand of flash, you have the flexibility to go with your personal preferences.

Flash Flexibility

One of the greatest benefits of shoe mounted photography as opposed to using a camera's built-in flash is the greater flexibility that comes with the ability to adjust your flash based on your surrounding conditions. In some instances, you will undoubtedly want a stronger or weaker flash, depending on surrounding ambient lighting conditions, and the use of a shoe mounted flashgun can give you the flexibility to deal with these changes in condition. On the other hand, it can often be cumbersome to switch between flashes from picture to picture, adding valuable time to the picture-taking process and potentially causing you to miss the shot you wanted in the first place. Still, most serious photographers appreciate the ability to tailor their shots to their own specifications with different flash techniques.

Lighting Angles

Another one of the biggest benefits of shoe mounted photography is that external flashguns typically come with swiveling heads. This means that the flash itself can be adjusted to create different flash effects. If you want indirect light on your subjects, the flash can be angled up to create a more natural lighting effect. This can be greatly beneficial when determining the proper composition of your photographs.

Flash Brightness

One thing to note when discussing shoe mounted flash photography is that external flashes do not typically vary in terms of how bright the flash itself is--in terms of luminosity. Instead, different flashes will vary based on how long the flash itself is illuminated when you press your shutter. The longer the flash emits light, the brighter your photograph will generally be, but the light itself is no brighter than a different flash.

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