Friday, May 6, 2011

Will It Bounce? Part 3: School Concert

Ever had to shoot in a small auditorium and wondered whether you could bounce flash?

Our toddler had a school concert last week.  The auditorium had ceilings that were navy-blue and about 20 to 25 feet high.  The room had fluorescent lights overhead, but a significant part of the ambient light was coming from a door on camera left.  The ambient exposure was around f/4.5, 1/80, ISO 1600.  I had with me only an old zoom lens Nikkor 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 AF-D, a D70 (tops out at ISO 1600), and an SB-800.

Navy blue ceilings

Ambient was from a door and from fluorescent lights overhead.
At first I tried ambient only but the shots looked a little blurry.  My effective focal length was around 157.5 mm and my shutter speed was only 1/80.
Ambient only.  Straight out of the camera.
It was also underexposed.  But my ISO was already at its maximum and my aperture at its widest.  If I had used a slower shutter speed, the shots would have been even more blurry.  I opted to keep my exposure as is and adjust the exposure in post-processing (effectively pushing the ISO).

Meanwhile I started to wonder whether I could bounce the flash.  They were kind of high and quite dark (almost black).  But I thought it was worth a shot.  I bounced the flash straight up (in some cases slightly tilted forward or slightly tilted camera left).  And here's what I got:

No flash vs. With flash.  Straight out of the camera.
Definite improvement.  Later, during post-processing, I adjusted the ambient-only shot.  Not as clean as the shot with the flash:

Will it Bounce? Part 1: Pergola
Will it Bounce? Part 2: Very Blue Fabric
Extreme Bounce Flash
12 Alternatives to Bouncing from Ceilings and Walls

Anyway, here are some more shots, all with bounce flash:


  1. The difference between available light only and the bounce ones are very significant, I am glad you didn't back off the ISO and got to your camera's limit to get your picture.

    Do you know if the SB-800 was firing near full power?

  2. And the collage at the end is nicely done. :-)

  3. I tried shooting in manual flash to find out at that time and I recall that I only needed 1/4 power.

    Re collage - thanks. I did it through


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