105 — Four tips to improve your bounced flash photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #105 offers up tips on how to improve your bounced flash pho­tog­ra­phy. Bounc­ing your flash off of walls and ceil­ings is easy and really soft­ens the light which is often desir­able espe­cially in por­traits. You can also achieve a much more inter­est­ing light­ing pat­tern ver­sus direct on-camera flash. You can often achieve great results with min­i­mal effort and min­i­mal help; I often use bounced flash when I am shoot­ing alone and need a quick light­ing setup.

The images below of my wife Carmy were shot in about 5 min­utes against a slightly green wall in my liv­in­groom. The tones in the face and back­ground wall are sim­i­lar but not iden­ti­cal in all images and I delib­er­ately chose not to match them to see the sub­tle dif­fer­ences. These dif­fer­ences are due to the dif­fer­ent ways that the light bounced around the room. There were win­dows in the room but the day was cloudy and no direct light was shin­ing through the win­dows. Images are unretouched.

Direct flash versus bounced flash

The image on the left shows direct flash. Note the harsh shadow on the wall and the rel­a­tively even light­ing on the face. The shot on the right, bounced the flash off the ceil­ing. The shadow is still on the wall but it is softer. The light­ing pat­tern on the face is less even but more inter­est­ing to the eye.


Bounced flash photography

The image on the left used flash that was bounced off of the wall about 12 feet behind me. The image on the right used flash that was bounced off the side wall about 6 feet from me. Note the absence of any shadow on the back wall com­pared to the left image in the first set. When you try this for your­self make note of how far the bounced walls are from your flash. The far­ther the walls are from the flash, the harder the flash has to work and you may need to increase the flash’s output.


Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Spin­rite - To recover crashed hard dri­ves
Photo pod­cast #4 — Fill flash
Photo pod­cast #47 — Flash sync speeds
Photo pod­cast #71 Portable flash

- Bright Colour is our reg­u­lar forum assign­ment for March
– Sil­hou­ettes is our level 2 forum assign­ment for March

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Photography forum image of the month — February 2012

Every month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum mem­bers nom­i­nate images that they like. Then at the end of the month I choose an excel­lent image and talk about why it rocks. The photo I choose is not nec­es­sar­ily the best one of the month. I’ve come to real­ize it’s not really log­i­cal to pit images from totally dif­fer­ent gen­res against each other. That’s why there are cat­e­gories in photo con­tests. I just choose a photo that has extremely strong ele­ments that we can learn from.

Jump - behind the shot by Richard

Jump — behind the shot by Richard

This month’s choice is Jump — behind the shot by Richard

I chose this image for sev­eral reasons:

Colour — Light­ing — Expo­sure — The cool colours in this image work extremely well with the sub­ject mat­ter. I really like the bluish qual­ity to the light­ing in this image as it is in sync with the with colder sea­son. The over­all light­ing which Richard gra­ciously explains is also well done and I like the hues of the gelled speed­lights. The speed­lights high­light the child’s move­ments very well and cap­ture an excel­lent ges­ture. In terms of the expo­sure, Richard con­fesses to to using an ND fil­ter over the lens to bal­ance the strobes and ambi­ent light and this makes the shut­ter­speed longer. This was a very smart move that allows us to see a hint of blurred move­ment in the feet and dif­fer­ent posi­tion of the hat.

Ges­ture and Story — The child is caught in mid-jump, play­ing and smil­ing. Even though the child is basi­cally told to jump, Richard catches a moment that looks com­pletely nat­ural. For me this is a suc­cess­ful image of a child hav­ing a great time just being a child.

Post pro­cess­ing — the added wisps of smoke in the post pro­cess­ing are a lovely touch and blend in really well with the image and the intended con­cept of the image. The vignetting keeps our eyes well focused on the child and the child’s activity.

For all these rea­sons, this is my choice for image of the month. Since we all have opin­ions, some mem­bers may dis­agree with my choice. That’s cool but THIS thread is not the place for debate over my pick, NOR is it the place to fur­ther cri­tique the image. The pur­pose here is to sug­gest strong ele­ments in the photo that we may learn from.

Con­grats again Richard for cre­at­ing this won­der­ful image!