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Light in Photography -   LIGHTING -  FLASH LIGHTING


In difficult lighting conditions, or to augment existing lighting, the use of an electronic flash is an effective means of illuminating a subject. The flash unit is constructed in a manner that allows the tube to fired repetitively for thousands of times from the same gas filled tube by an electrical charge stored in a capacitor.

Whether of a SLR design or a compact design, many modern 35 mm cameras have a small flash built into the unit. But small flash units can be obtained that can be attached to the hot shoe of the camera. These have an electrical  connection on the base that fires the flash in sync with the shutter of the camera.

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camera hot shoe
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Most low powered portable flash units use disposable AA batteries or similar style of battery. Some of these units have rechargeable batteries that can be removed in a power pack and charged as a unit. The light out put is usually related to the size of the capacitor and flash tube built into the unit and indirectly related to the size and weight of the unit as a whole. 
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A disadvantage of compact units like this is that the photographer has limited control over how to control the light both in direction and quality. Some photographers might use a piece of tissue paper over the transparent front where the tube is to diffuse the light more. Or a piece of white card can be attached to the front of the unit to direct the light in a different direction. 
Schematic diagram of a flash circuit. The electrical charge is stored in the capacitor and discharged when the camera shutter is released. The same circuit is used for all flashed with modifications for more specialized equipment. To keep the capacitor at peak performance, it is wise to charge it ones every month or so.

The flash tube is often U shaped or circular to save space and sits against a polished reflector to direct as much light as possible onto the subject.



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