Fill light with pop-up flash (easy trick)

Here is a little trick for using the camera’s pop up flash as a fill light.

When it comes to subject, food or portrait photography, one of the most important thing is the lighting. We can use many light sources to reach the look that matches our notion. Much money can be spent on these stuff while we could do it on a low-budget.

Let me show you 2 examples!

Our first lighting is really simple. We have a really strong back or rim light behind the subject on the left at 45 degrees. I used a cheap led floodlight and a sheet of white paper to diffuse it.

One light composition

Since, it’s a dark room, the front of our subject that faces the camera will be really dark. You can see it in the picture below.

Without fill light

It looks nice, yet, it’s a bit dramatic. Our aim is a bit different. We need a fill light to fill up the shadows, however, we only have out built-in pop up flash. Let’s give it a try and shoot an image with the flash.


So? It looks crappy, doesn’t it? This direct flash light is pretty harsh and ruins our image.

Here comes the trick…

We need a white card, like a business card or something that doesn’t transmit the light. While shooting, keep the card in front of the flash at 45 degrees or you can use a bluetek  or something to fix it.

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With this little ruse, we can get nice and soft effect:


Not bad, however we can even do it much better, just keep reading.

In our second setting, we just add a kind of reflector to the right side…


This reflector is just a small box with aluminium foil inside.

From this point, we can repeat the whole process. The first image shows the how it looks like without flash. The second shows with direct flashlight and the third shows how nicely the controlled and diffused fill light can fill up the shadows.


Now, the strong and harsh direct flash light:


And here is the final result:


You can see how we can use our crappy pop up flash in a different way. We can reach diverse effects with other materials or different angles. For example, if we want the fill light to come from one side, the “card” should be opened at 45 degrees to that side and not upwards.

I hope you found it interesting and useful and have a good time playing with these light and flash settings.