Twin Flash: to "BI" or not to "BI"? | Alexandre Masotti

Twin Flash: to "BI" or not to "BI"? | Alexandre Masotti

The BI was purposely written this way. A pun of the word in English Be (or not be) with BI (meaning BI = as being a double source of light)Do not know how it would be in English and in Spanish… if you don't like it, if it does not sound good or if it has no meaning in your language, consider it: TO BE OR NOT TO BE. 

What is the Twin Flash? According to the author who wrote this post, the Twin Flash is a lighting equipment for photography that uses two light sources physically separated, mainly for the direction of the shadows and the bright areas to really show the translucency, the texture and the volume of the object (Figure 1). 

This theme was in focus, mainly between dentistry colleagues that are wondering: if I invest in a Twin Flash will I get great pictures similar to those that I see in congresses, lectures, books and journals? That is what we will discuss in this "post". I remember that in addition to the dental group, the matter may be very useful for people that photograph face and smile. 

Let's start this with a question: what Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Hollywood, Photo Portrait (painting, photograph or other artistic representation of a person), Entomology (science that studies the insects) and Dentistry have in common? They all use a technique called chiaroscuro. Born in Renaissance painting (~ year 1500), this technique creates a 3D effect to the eyes of the observer from the 2D surface of the painting. Da Vinci was the precursor of the technique but Caravaggio (~ year 1600) was considered to be the master. The chiaroscuro effect (Figures 2.1 and 2.2) has been widely used in the cinema to create a dramatic effect, especially in American films of detectives of the 40’s and 50’s, genre known as film noir (Example: Casablanca). 

Currently, the chiaroscuro effect can be appreciated in photos portrait (portrait of the human figure in the spotlight) of Sebastiao Salgado (Figures 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 4.2) and in entomology, which applies techniques of macro photography to capture images of small insects. The technique values intensively the contrast between the areas of light and dark, and the final effect is the illusion of 3D, i.e., the observer sees depth in the image.

Despite the application of the chiaroscuro in different fields for quite some time now, is in the photo of the smile that it has become popular in dental world. The Twin Flash is one of the devices used in dentistry for the purpose of depth, i.e. chiaroscuro effect. This is possible because the Twin Flash creates a selective and balanced lighting, that enhances the contrast between light and shadow, highlights the contour and the form, the surface and the texture. The areas of reflection are carefully chosen (Figure 5), and as a result, the image obtained shows depth, i.e., it creates a pseudo 3D (Figure 6).

The light sources of the Twin Flash can be used in different angles and positions, and these variations may be used in our favor (Figure 7). The greater the uptake of contrast between the areas of lightness/darkness of the object, in this case, the smile, the greater the details printed on the photo (Figure 8). 


Now let us make a counterpoint to the "opponent" of the Twin Flash, the "Ring Flash or Drive  Flash" (Figure 9). The latter provides a burst of light in all directions and for this reason, hardly registers shadow areas. The light emitted by the Drive Flash is not selective, and does not reproduce the effect of depth (Figure 10). The photograph obtained is known as image "plateau" or "Flat". However, because it doesn't require choosing the position of the light sources, the Drive Flash is very convenient, especially in photography of posterior teeth (Figure 11). 

After this brief discussion, the question that remains is: what is the best flash - or light source - for dental photos? The answer is: we should not see this choice as two possibilities of lighting equipment, but with two philosophies of work, which have different objectives and results. The Twin Flash, for being a bidirectional light source captures texture, volume and selectivity of light - which prevents the unwanted extensive areas of reflection - mainly in anterior teeth - in which all the information of the surface, as texture, is lost. On the other hand, it requires a lot of training, it is more difficult to achieve standardization in sequential pictures and its best results are in anterior teeth - useless to say that it can drive you crazy when taking photos of posterior teeth. Still, the Drive Flash or Ring Flash offers easily standardized results, lighting throughout the visible field and convenience both in anterior teeth and in posterior teeth. However, even the best Drive Flash is limited to create the effect of depth, does not capture the surface's texture and can drive you mad when taking photos of anterior teeth, the insistence on producing large reflection areas, in which all that we can see is complete white.

Twin Flash: to be or not to be? This is a question that does not have a single answer. The only thing that can be said is that you will have to do more than choose the light source and tighten the shoot button to get the photo of your dreams. The secret is to seek knowledge and practice a lot. From the moment that we master the technique the results appear and the pleasure in photographing becomes a habit. 



Alexandre Masotti 

Contact: [email protected] 


La Pittura Italiana - I maestri di-makingâ time and i loro capolavori. Stefano Zuffi, Francesca Castria. Ed SuperMiti, Milan; 397p.,1998. 

Caravaggio. Giorgio Bonsanti. 2? Ed. , Ed. Scala, Firenze; 80 p., 1991. 

Lighting in Casablanca. Jason Smith. ESSAI: Vol. 4, Article 36. 2006. 

Cinematography. Kris Malkiewicz. 2? Ed. , Ed Fireside, New York; 214 p. , 1992. 

Terra, Sebastiao Salgado. Ed Companhia das Letras, Sao Paulo; 144 p. , 1997. 






Sebastiao Salgado: 



Text and figures editor: Patti Jardim 

My purpose is to help you gain autonomy through knowledge, facilitating the dentistry and communication. AND how do I do this?

I put myself in your shoed, I identify what is preventing you from being happy with your results and untie the knots by means of a simple and accessible language! I graduated from UNESP | Araçatuba; did my Master and PhD in Operative Dentistry at UNESP Araraquara | I am a Professor of Operative Dentistry at the Federal University of Pelotas | RS.


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