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Never Take Another Shadowy Portrait

There is one time when you should turn on the flash, and it might sound crazy: When you’re taking pictures of people on a bright, sunny day.

Here’s the problem: The camera “reads” the scene and concludes that there’s tons of sunlight. But it’s not smart enough to recognize that the face you’re photographing is in shadow. You wind up with a dark, silhouetted face (left).

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The solution is to force the flash on—a common photographer’s trick. This “fill flash” technique provides just enough light to brighten your subject’s face. It eliminates the silhouette effect. Better yet, it provides flattering front light (above, right). It softens smile lines and wrinkles and puts a nice twinkle in the subject’s eyes.

To force the flash, press the lightning-bolt button. This time, choose the simple lightning-bolt icon, as shown here; it may be labeled Force Flash or Flash On.

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Adapted from Pogue’s Basics, Flatiron Books. Order here.