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I often hear/read in webcasts and blogs that when doing food photography, it's better to use only the indirect sun light from a window, and without flash.

Why?

I tested multiple times two setups:

  1. Reflected sun light from a window (no direct sun),

  2. Reflected sun light from a window + light from a single flash, bouncing from a ceiling or a white wall.

Every time, the second setup gave much better results than the light from a window only. Am I doing it wrong? Have I misunderstood the assertion?

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    Most likely, the advice means not to use direct on-camera flash. If you're advanced enough to use bounce flash in combination with ambient light, you're advanced enough to ignore the advice. – coneslayer Mar 26 '12 at 16:00
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    @coneslayer that's my interpretation also, you should post that as an answer. – Matt Grum Mar 26 '12 at 16:02
  • @matt Thanks... rfusca's answer covers everything that I would have said and more, so I'm happy with that. – coneslayer Mar 26 '12 at 16:44
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Generally anybody who says "Don't use flash, it won't look natural" about any photography, means don't use direct, on camera, harsh small flash - because it doesn't look natural.

Mixing flash and ambient like you're doing or even doing all flash with sufficient softboxes and such is just fine and can produce some wonderful results.

As usual, rules in photography are more like guidelines - trying to help those who may be starting out and not fully understanding what they're doing. Its easier to tell somebody with a point and shoot or not real flash equipment to just 'not use flash' than it is to explain to them the intricacies of 'real' flash work.

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