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Off-Camera Flash: Looney Tunes vs Finding Nemo

MattKrumins Tutorials

So my big question today: what is the difference between the Looney Tunes and Finding Nemo? (Think more about the visuals than the plot). That’s right, Finding Nemo is three dimensional whereas Looney Tunes is flat, 2-D. What makes Finding Nemo 3D? Yeah sure, the animation process is different but the major factor in this is the lack of shadows you’ll find in Looney Tunes characters (unless someone is about to be hit by an anvil). Nemo however has shadows that create depth in an image. This is because our eyes can’t perceive the distance and depth like they can in real life, after all the image is in fact flat. So what has this got to do with flash? Here we go!

I have no doubt that if you’ve used your cameras built in flash before and decided that you’re not it’s biggest fan. It tends to make people look pretty terrible and there is a good reason why. On your camera the flash is essentially projecting from the exact same direction that your lens is looking, meaning that anything that your camera sees will get hit by light. This completely eliminates shadow on peoples faces turning them from beautiful Finding Nemo characters to a flatter Looney Tunes kind of person.

A horrible 2D render of me with on-camera flash…

A beautiful 3D render of me with off-camera flash… (wow… such an angelic photo)


So how do we get around this horrible look?

We need to move the light away from the lens. Pretty simple really! By moving the light off from the same perspective as the camera we start to create shadows that give faces depth. There are two options to this:

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    1. Bounce Flash

    By using a larger flash capable of tilt/swivel we can use nice white (very important or you will get strange colour casts) wall to bounce your flash off, which changes the angle of the light hitting your subject. Or if there is no wall grab a piece of A4 white paper and hold it up to the side of your camera to bounce the light into your subject.

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    2. Off Camera Flash

    Better still, most camera brands offer flashes with built in remote control settings allowing you to hold your camera in one hand and the flash in another to achieve this effect. Sound like too much of a juggle? There are brackets that can help you with that, or sometimes it’s best to recruit a friend or stranger to hold the flash for your shot!

So there you have it, with an off-camera flash and just a small movement away from the camera you can turn your family christmas photos from Looney Tunes to Finding Nemo, I promise the family will thank you for it!

Want to learn more about your camera and how to improve your photos? Click the Workshops and Day Trips image below and see the world through my eyes!

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