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Simple lighting setups with flash

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Some time ago, like one often reads in this and other photo groups, I
was of the opinion that I should avoid flash at all costs. It simply
wasn't possible to capture natural-looking photos unless one relied
exclusively on ambient/available light -- and for that, one best get
the fastest lens and highest ISO performance camera available. Who
could blame me for such an outlook? Everytime I used the built-in
flash in my camera, the results were a mess! And prior experience with
small, inflexible flash units didn't impress either.

I soon found out, though, that except for very special occasions, the
quality (color, direction) just wasn't there for a lot of the family
and friends events I photograph when I relied exclusively on available
light. During recent family and friends get-togethers, I've tried some
simple on/off-camera flash setups that you may want to try out. I am
encouraged with the results, some of which I sample here:

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