So I had my second photography class this past monday night. I learned how to take long exposures and fill flash. Can I tell you that I didn't know you could tone down the on board flash!
We started by turning out the lights in the classroom and lighting a candle. Placed the candle on the corner of a desk and had a person sit down beside it. The objective was to take a picture without flash and then with flash. We didn't want a 'flash' picture, just enough light to fill the dark side of the face. It was a pretty neat exercise. I'll try to use the fill flash technique now and play around with it when I see the oportunity.
Next class isn't until the week after next (with Memorial Day being next week and all). We will be going to our old capital building and taking evening and night shots of the downtown and capital area. REALLY looking forward to that!
Just thought I'd share my newly gained information!
I didn't know you could tone down the onboard flash. is that a setting in camera?
I don't have my camera sitting in front of me, so I'm kind of going off memory (and from the T1i, not 50d). But if you go through your menu settings, you'll find a Flash selection. Under that menu there are options for Onboard flash and for external flash. Select for which ever you are using. Select the option for Flash Exposure Comp. The next menu that opens looks like your light meter. It has the 2--1--0--1--2 menu. Move the slider to the left to tone down the flash and to the right to increase the power. What happens is it provides the same flash, but with less power so you don't get such a harsh flash picture. Our classroom results weren't GREAT, but it definately taught me a new function on my camera!
Also found out you can set the flash to fire either on the first or second curtian release. My teacher said that if you are doing the water drop picture and have the on board flash fire to freeze the movement, then you want to set your flash to second curtain, not first (which is default). That way you get the nice drop picture.
I haven't tried this for my external flash, so don't know the functionality of that....
ETA: I just looked up the T1i Manual and the 50d manual. The instructions are on page 85 of the T1i and sort of on page 111 of the 50d manual.