The New York Institute of Photography is the world’s largest online photography school, and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography tips. Please enjoy!
The pop-up flash gets a bad rap, and this is unfortunate as it's actually a very useful tool when set properly. Out of the box, it simply provides too much light, resulting in a bright washed out appearance. The trick is to adjust the flash exposure compensation to a reduced output. As a starting point, bring it down to negative one and three-quarters (-1.75). This creates a soft quality of fill flash that's immediately more pleasing. Should you need even less light, you can further reduce the flash to negative three (-3). While it's rarely necessary, you could even add intensity to the flash by raising it towards the positive.
A subject wearing a broad brimmed hat can quickly become too dark due to shadows. Here, a pop-up flash fills them in nicely, making for a more pleasing portrait. When trying this yourself, remember that effective use of flash is meant to soften, not eliminate shadows.