Quick Tip: Bounce or Diffuse Flash – Part One

Flash: Bounce or Diffuse, That Is The Question: Part One

We have all been in a situation where we have taking a photo and the photo is overexposed and harsh or is well lit but there are harsh shadows. By bouncing or defusing the flash will create a much more pleasing and wrapping light.

By bouncing or diffusing the light what we are creating a larger and softer light source.

If you have a flash (one not built in to the camera) then you have the option of either bouncing or defuse the light from the flash unit.

Let’s start with bouncing the light. With this technique you change the direction of the light coming out of the flash unit by turning head of the flash unit towards a wall, ceiling or reflector.

Any time you bounce light off of a wall or ceiling the bouncing light will pick up the color of the wall or ceiling. So whenever possible us white walls, otherwise you may need to color correct the image in post-production or use a custom white balance.

To bounce light of the ceiling tilt your flash head toward the ceiling and take the picture. The ceiling acts like a huge reflector, bouncing the light softly on to your subject. If you are using TTL, eTTL, iTTL, the camera and flash will make the appropriate output power settings to compensate for the loss of light. However this method may cause shadows in the eye sockets so be careful with the angle you choose to tilt the flash head. If this does occur consider using a reverse ceiling bounce.

A reverse ceiling bounce bounces light off the wall and ceiling behind you. To use a reverse ceiling bounce turn the flash head up as before but also behind you. This will give you a great deal more diffusion then just bouncing of the ceiling. Be aware of who or what is behind you as you don’t want to surprise anyone standing there or shooting the flash out a window. Again if you are using TTL, eTTL, iTTL, the camera and flash will make the appropriate output power settings to compensate for the loss of light.

The use of a reflector is a great way of control and shaping light. A reflector can be anything and I do mean anything form towels, bed sheets, pillows to someone wearing a white T-shirt). There is of course ones you can buy that are made specifically for this purpose.

To use a reflector you will need a stand or someone to hold the reflector of choice to your side about 45 degrees to you and the subject. Point you flash head to the reflector and shoot away. This creates a larger and softer light as before but with little loss of light.

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