Built in flash techniques: 03. Diffuse
Because the on-camera flash is a relatively small source of light it can be very harsh, potentially creating unpleasant highlights and deep shadows.
This is easily rectified by diffusing the light to make it softer.
There are lots of on-camera flash diffusers available on the market, or you can make your own with a strip of translucent white plastic, from a milk container, for example — although this can have an impact on white balance.
Even a piece of greaseproof paper or tissue can be used in an emergency.
Another possible option is to bounce the light from the flash off the ceiling. You’ll need a small rectangle of white card or something similar that can be held in front of the flash and angled up towards the ceiling.
The light will hit the card and bounce up to the ceiling from where it bounces down onto the subject.
This gives your subject nice soft light from above, creating a natural look. It’s essential that the ceiling is white otherwise the light will be coloured and look unnatural when it hits your subject.
As on-camera flashes aren’t especially powerful it won’t work with very high ceilings.
Diffusing and bouncing the flash effectively reduces its power, so your subject may need to be closer or the camera’s sensitivity set a little higher.
Flash photography tips: external flash techniques anyone can understand
In-camera flash settings: exploring your built-in flash options
Wireless flash triggers – how to set up and shoot with off-camera flash
49 seriously good Canon DSLR tips, tricks, shortcuts and time savers