How camera flash works: free photography cheat sheet

Flash photography cheat sheet: what every photographer must know

There is a time and a place for flash photography. It will often kill the atmosphere at a party, but there are other times when your camera flash is the essential ingredient for a successful shot.

The easy way to set up off-camera flash for perfectly lit shots

The secret to success is to use the built-in camera flash on most DSLRs with caution. The key to getting good results is often a matter of exposure, ensuring you use settings that make the flash look as natural as possible.

Using camera flash complicates the usual problems of exposure. You not only have to choose the best shutter speed, aperture and ISO to suit the scene, you have to add the flash power into the exposure equation too.

In the latest installment of our long-running photography cheat sheet series we’ve taken a look inside your flashgun to see how it works and illustrated in a series of infographics how your camera flash is timed to match the movement of your shutter curtains. We’ve also compiled a cheat sheet to understanding flash Guide Numbers.

Simply click on each infographic to expand the image, or drag and drop the photography cheat sheet to your desktop to save the larger file.

What’s inside your flashgun


Flash photography cheat sheet: what's inside your flashgun

Read on to learn more about how flash works and to see our new infographics.

PAGE 1: How camera flash works & what’s inside your flashgun
PAGE 2: Facts about camera flash
PAGE 3: How to calculate exposure & flash timings explained


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