What is the biggest contributing factor to your images?
What is your biggest resource for adding light to your photographs?
Regardless of your camera type, you have the ability to utilize different flash options.
The first step is to understand WHAT those options are:
The above graphic is part of a collection of Keycards
and keep inside your camera bag for quick reference.
<Get the second set here>
Accessing your Flash Function
First, you will need to be in your P mode to command your flash. A / Auto / or the green square mode won't always let you control your flash!
(For more info about the difference between Program and Auto check this out!)
Now, like with the other function buttons, typically you cycle through the different options by
1. Hitting the flash button over and over changing (or cycling through) the icon on your user display.
2. Using the arrows on your camera back (Cross keys) to select the icon from a menu display
3. Hold the button and spin a command dial (for Bridge or DSLRS)
Understanding the Basics
Much of photography is making choices. Knowing when your flash will help, and when it will hurt your images is HUGE!
First - your camera flash has a "sweet spot" too close and your subject will be over exposed (ghost like face) to far away and they will be underexposed (in the shadows, where the flash doesn't reach)
As a general rule when you use a flash that is built into your camera you want to stand about 6 feet away from your subject. This can be affected by your zoom range, and how light or dark your room is - be sure to play with your flash and get a feel for different situations.
The biggest part of this to understand is if you are shooting a performance on stage...
like ballet, your flash wont help. You will be too far away for it to do anything more than light the backs of the heads of the other parents.
Second - There is NOTHING wrong with using your flash outside! When you are taking images of people, it works as a "fill flash" and reduces shadows across their face.
This is why you see professional portrait photographers using flash equipment outside!
It provides even, and consistent light for the best exposure.
For additional information on additional flash options for point and shoot cameras
For additional information on strobe flash options
For additional information on Red Eye reduction