Friday, May 13, 2011

An Underrated Bounce Flash Technique

When I first learned about bounce flash, one of the first lessons I learned was that bouncing to the ceiling, particularly with the flash aimed at around 45 degrees forward, is not ideal because it leads to raccoon eyes (shadows around eyes, especially deep-set ones).  At the same time I learned that bouncing the flash from the side could produce more interesting lighting by adding greater directionality to the light.  Ever since then I rarely bounced the flash from the ceiling.  Why would I, when there are so many other directions available?  Sometimes however, bouncing from the ceiling is not a bad option.  

On Mother's Day, we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Maison Akira in Pasadena (CA) for lunch.  It was a 30-mile drive each way for us, but we didn't mind.  They consistently serve the best foie-gras, and everything we've tried on their Japanese-French fusion menu is perfect, even a dish as humble as rotisserie chicken.

The chocolates served for dessert were heavenly!
But I digress.  After our lunch, we asked to have our picture taken.  I aimed the flash so that it would bounce almost straight up, but slightly pointed to the rear.

There are a couple of reasons I bounced from the ceiling.  First, this is a group shot.  If I bounced to the left or the right, some of us would be well lit while others would be dark, because of the inverse square law.  It's possible to bounce the flash far enough that the light would appear even on all of us, but that would require a lot of power and a lot of ceiling space.

Second, the tablecloths were white and the flash bounced from the ceiling would also be reflected by the tablecloth, creating a glamour type effect and filling in what otherwise would be shadows around the eyes.

Anyway, here are the shots we got (in post, I changed the color of the tablecloth because it was distracting in white):

Nikon D300 + Tamron 17-50 VC, f/4, 1/60, ISO 640.  TTL Flash at -1 FEC.

Nikon D300 + Tamron 17-50 VC, f/4, 1/60, ISO 640.  TTL Flash at -1 FEC.
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Have a great weekend!  I will be working on several posts regarding multiple flash and comparing the results against a studio strobe.  To be notified of new posts without having to check on the blog all the time, please subscribe to our feed on Photoverse (if you have it for iOS) or Google Reader.  You can also follow our Twitter feed @betterfamilypix .