The Dangers of Flash Photography
One of the biggest mistakes amateur photographers make is to use their camera's flash when taking pictures. Surely you've seen the results: washed out pictures & overexposed flat compositions. Now don't get me wrong, the flash photography in itself is not the problem, it can be a very useful tool. But, when a camera flash is used incorrectly, as it often is, it can produce unfavorable results in your photos. To all the amateur photographers reading this, don't be offended by those statements. It is not you're fault you've failed at flash photography. You were setup to fail by poorly-designed photographic equipment.
The culprit is the onboard flash. More often than not, onboard flash is not a good tool for the job. Avoid using this flash whenever you can. The reason is the location of your camera's onboard flash and the quick sharp flash of light it creates. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad thing.
First of all, when the flash illuminates your subject, the light is shone straight into the picture's composition. All the shadows are cast straight back. When shadows are cast straight back, they can't be seen in the resulting picture. The result is no shadows, and the depth that they provide, and thus everything the light reaches looks flat. Avoiding the onboard flash will give your pictures depth.
Secondly, you flash will be brighter and "outshine" the ambient light. Let's suppose you're taking a picture of a Christmas tree. If you take that picture of your Christmas tree while using a flash, the result is a green tree with tiny lights on it you won't even notice. The mood of the scene has been destroyed by the flash. Take the same photo without a flash, and the nice ambient light creates a much better photograph. The mood has been captured.
While these are some very compelling reasons to avoid using a flash, flash photography shouldn't always be avoided. Keep in mind that your camera's flash is a tool. And, like all tools, when it is used properly, it can be very useful. Before you give up on it, check out some of the other tips and techniques about flash photography for more information.