Common misconception:  Using the built-in flash always results in awful pictures.  Case in point:


A sexy picture of me using built-in flash

Alright, I know you can’t resist that lovable face, but let’s be brutally honest – this picture sucks.  I s’pose I could have chosen a picture with better composition, or one that was in focus, or without such a doofy look on my face, but I’m trying to prove a point here – on-camera flash often achieves terrible results.  Many people think it ALWAYS achieves terrible results.  I beg to differ:

Yours truly

Slightly more flattering on-camera flash

Same photo shoot, taken approximately 10 minutes apart.  Much better, no?  Ok, so I admit – there’s more going on here than just the lighting.  The second picture is a completely different composition, and I actually managed to look half decent.  It’s probably the only shot in the entire series where I don’t look mildly retarded.

But I digress, I’m not here to talk about my modeling capabilities, I’m here to talk about being creative.  Let me give you some background – I wanted a profile picture for this blog.  For a variety of reasons I don’t want to use any of my stocked photos, so I decided to do some self-portrait work.  I don’t actually own an external flash, I always borrow my roommate’s when I need one.  Problem is – he’s out of town with all of his camera equipment.

I have motivation to do this photo shoot RIGHT NOW but no proper flash equipment.  The solution?

A hair brush.

Specifically, a hairbrush Lufthansa gave me when they lost my luggage, two or three years ago.  Also a rubber band and an extra Compat Flash card… Oh, and a white wall.

A mirror for the flash

Bounce that Flash, Lufhansa hair brush!

First – I apologize for this crappy photo.  Instead of using a complex mirror setup to have the camera take a picture of itself (I did think about doing that) I just used my cell phone camera, which is awful, at best, but it gets the job done.

The setup:

The hairbrush has a mirror in the handle.  It is also a folding brush, so I used the rubber band to attach it to the pop-up flash on my camera, then angled the handle approximately 45 degrees.  The compact flash card just adds a little more support to keep it propped up properly.  Bounce that flash on a white wall, and voila!  Studio finish lighting!

Note:  I am holding a white reflector behind the camera in this shot, but I didn’t use it for my portrait photo as I had a nice white wall to bounce off of.  Also it’s worth noting that I turned the flash exposure up to +2, the highest my built-in flash will go.

I love creative solutions to absolutely unnecessary problems.  ;-)