This week for our ABCs of Photography series, we’re learning about flash. Yes, like the flash on your camera. Since we learned about existing light for the letter “E” …it only seemed fitting to learn about an artificial light source like flash for letter “F” …right?
Anyway, Dictionary.com defines flash photography like this:
photography using a momentary flash of artificial light as a source of illumination.
I’m not sure I can really simplify that definition any further, but here goes. Flash is a burst of light that you add to the scene when you take a picture. You’ll likely be most familiar with the on-camera flash built into your camera (there are off-camera flashes too).
I have three activity ideas for today.
Camera Flash Activity
You can adapt this exercise for older or younger kids as needed. The simplest version of the activity? Go around the house and take pictures of things with the flash on and off. See when your camera automatically turns on the flash, and talk about why that happens.
Why does that happen? Your camera determines that there is not enough existing light to adequately expose the image (take the picture).
Your older child may enjoy overriding the flash mode and seeing how the images change. Have them pull up the images on the computer, side by side, and see how the quality of the light changes.
You could also print them out. Which leads me into the next activity…
Print out two images of the same scene — one taken with flash, one taken with existing light. It could be a set of images taken by the same person, or one image taken by each person from different angles…go with the flow!
Give everyone a piece of paper and pencil. Set a timer and have everyone spend 2-5 minutes jotting down all the differences they see between the two images.
Then, when time is up, go through your lists one at a time. As each person shares, cross off any items that someone else noticed. The winner is whoever ends up with the most items left!
Flashlight Find-It Fun
While a flashlight is most definitely NOT a momentary burst of light, you can use it to illustrate the concept of flash for younger kids. Hand each kid a flashlight and then turn off the lights in a dimly lit room. Talk about how the shadowy forms are revealed by the light of the flashlight, making it so that our eyes can “properly expose” the image and see things “the way” a camera uses flash to see things in a picture.
You can leave the activity at that, or if your kids have the attention span, play a game of “Find-It” or “I Spy” with the flashlights. Ask them to find something:
- specific color (e.g. what can you find that’s red?)
- particular shape (e.g. are there any rectangular objects you can find?)
- certain texture (e.g. what do you see that looks fuzzy?)
- motion (e.g. do you see anything that is moving? like a ceiling fan)
As an extension activity, you could even experiment with different objects that cast light to see how they make items appear different. Toby enjoyed doing this with glowsticks in the dark. His pictures, by the way, had the auto flash on, so we did have a nice compare/contrast conversation starter.
Any more ideas?
Hopefully these three activities will give you and your kids several fun options for exploring camera flash and learning about how light is used to expose an image. I’d love to hear of any activity extensions you come up with to learn about flash!
Make sure to check back next week for the next post, where I’ll share an activity for the letter G (learn about gray scale). You might also enjoy revisiting last week’s activity where we learned about existing light (with a free scavenger hunt printable).
Join Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography! We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids
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