Bounce Flash Lighting

March 24, 2010 · 9 comments

in Equipment,Tutorials

What is bounce flash lighting? Bounce flash lighting means turning your flash head away from your subject, and reflecting the light off something else.

The techniques are so simple, here are a few every photographer should know:

1. Bouncing off the Ceiling

Set your flash to TTL and aim your flash unit directly at the ceiling. Your flash will automatically compensate for the loss of light due to the extra distance the light will travel. Since the light source is directly above, be mindful about shadows under the subjects eyes.

This method will not work on very high ceilings, angled ceilings such as thatch roofs, and coloured ceilings will create a coloured cast.

2. Reverse Ceiling Bounce

Situate yourself with a white wall behind you, and point your flash head 45 degrees behind you. This combines the above method, with added light reflected from the wall behind you. Since the light source is now the ceiling and the wall, this method eliminates shadows under your subjects eyes.

This method will not work without a wall behind you!

3. Bouncing off a Wall (Side Bounce)

Swivel your flash head 90 degrees (to the side) and bounce off the nearest wall, preferably adjacent to your subject. This method creates beautiful directional light, mimicking ambient light from a window or a studio soft box at 45 degrees.

4. Bouncing off a Reflector

This method is similar to bouncing off a wall, except you need an assistant holding a reflector. (If you don’t have a reflector, you can substitute it with a white Poly board) Aim your flash head at the reflector, and have your assistant aim the reflector at your subject. To get this right, imagine you’re playing snooker, but with light! Although this method is not as convenient as the others, you can use this method anywhere, and you have an element of control in terms of the direction of the light.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cristopher Majkut June 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm

You’re a Really Professional Blogger, You either have got quality knowledge of what your discussing or you did some great research. Thanks for this excellent post.

Donz November 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I love, love, love your blog and have decided that you should start photography classes for “photography heathens” like me!
With regard to the bounce flash lighting, I have a point and shoot camera and also want to avoid the deer caught in headlight look that I get when I take photo’s especially at night time. It seems to completely drain all natural colour from my subjects faces and is not a true likeness of the setting at all?
Any tips?

rikki hibbert November 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Hi Donz! Thanks for the positive feedback, so glad you’re enjoying my blog ;-) I do offer individual photography lessons at R1000 /hour, or R3500 for a half day, with the content tailor made for your requirements.
For your point and shoot camera, I’m not sure which model you have, but there are a few options:
1. Gary Fong has a “Puffer” which you can place in front of the flash, and it softens the light: However, it doesn’t direct the light as with Bounce Flash lighting.
2. You can also make a cardboard cut out in the shape of a cone (small end over flash, large opening pointed towards ceiling or white wall) and tape this onto your camera.
However, you sound like like are more into photography than the average person, so I’d seriously recommend you invest in a DSLR, like the Canon 450 or 500D:
You’ll never look back!

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