Tips & Tutorials

[Part 1] Let’s Start Bounce Flash Photography

Bounce flash photography is a photography technique that makes use of light reflected from objects such as a wall or ceiling, instead of firing the flash directly at the main subject. This technique of reflection helps to diffuse the flash light, creating a soft and natural atmosphere. In this article, I will explain the method of bounce flash photography. Here in [Part 1] of the series article, let's lean about the fundamentals of bounce flash photography. (Reported by: Koji Ueda)

Capturing Indoor Portraits with Natural Skin Tone

EOS 60D/ EF35mm f/2/ Program AE (1/160 sec., f/5.6)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto/ Speedlite 430EX II (Flash mode: E-TTL)

I set the flash mode of the Speedlite to E-TTL, and selected the Program AE mode on the camera, which allows the camera to automatically determine the aperture value and shutter speed combination. Next, I fired the Speedlite with the flash head directed at the ceiling, and checked the resulting images to look for the best bounce flash angle. Light reflected from the ceiling was diffused, which enveloped the entire portrait subject to create a natural atmosphere.

Tips

  • Photograph with E-TTL + Program AE mode
  • Direct the Speedlite at the ceiling to diffuse the flash light

Shooting Condition

Position of the subject, camera and Speedlite

A: Approx. 1.5m 
B: Approx. 2.5m

Natural light that enters from the window beside the portrait subject creates a shadow on the face. Here, I made use of the bounce flash technique to weaken the shadow and obtain a natural ambience. I attached the Speedlite to the hot shoe of the camera, and composed a handheld shot with the camera directly facing the subject. The flash head of the Speedlite was directed at the ceiling.

Steps for Bounce Flash Photography

1: Attach the Speedlite to the camera

Attach the Speedlite flash unit to the hot shoe of the camera, and slide the lock lever of the mounting foot. After the lock is engaged, turn on the power.

2: Set the flash head in the direction you want to reflect light from

Set the flash head of the Speedlite in the direction you want light to reflect from, such as the ceiling or a wall.

3: Bounce the flash light

Press the shutter button to fire the flash and bounce the flash light. Adjust the bounce flash angle while checking the images you have captured.

4: Adjust the flash exposure as needed

Perform flash exposure compensation if you want to adjust the brightness using the flash output without altering the aperture value and shutter speed of the camera.

Koji Ueda

Born in Hiroshima in 1982, Ueda started his career as an assistant for photographer Shinichi Hanawa. He later became a freelance photographer, and is now engaged in a wide range of work from magazines to commercials while shooting different cities and landscapes all around the world. He is also a writer and a lecturer at photography lectures and workshops.

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