Friday, August 27, 2010

Bulletproof Bounce Flash Settings (Basic)

You've got a party coming up and want to take decent photos. The only problem is, you're new to photography and although you've seen good results from flash, not really sure about how to control your flash properly. The situation may not be hopeless as you may think.

Here are more-or-less safe settings you can use for an indoor party with white or neutral ceilings:
1. Buy the most powerful external flash you can buy that has bounce and swivel capability.
2. Attach your external flash to the camera (make sure both the camera and flash are off first).
3. Turn on the camera, then the flash. Make sure you're in TTL mode (which is the default option anyway).
4. Switch the camera to Program exposure mode. If you want to get fancy ;) , switch to shutter priority and select 1/60 shutter speed.
5. Switch the ISO to the highest ISO that has tolerable noise. If your camera has Auto ISO, turn it on. If you need to specify minimum shutter speed, select 1/60.
6. Turn the flash head as needed to bounce. Or turn the head to the rear and left (7 o'clock) and upward.

I did almost exactly that at our toddler's 1st birthday, and got these results without fiddling with any settings (even handing the camera to non-photographer friends from time to time):
(ironically, the shots look better exposed than the ones I took at our toddler's 3rd birthday).

After the party, check out the TTL Flash Tutorial :)


  1. I believe this steps may be used …I don’t have any proof since I never applied what you see below…so take just like what it is :my suppositions

    1-I believe the flash/flashes should be off camera
    2-More than one flash may be useful
    3-Trigger wireless
    4- Don’t use high iso ..unless you have a d300  (however do not go over 800)
    5-dispose the flashes to have a good DOF
    6- if you cannot(or don’t want to) nuke the room gel the strobes/ use ambient light
    7- you may use gobo for you flashes to avoid flare

    A party seems to me a very complex job to shoot.
    I never tried ….with the first occasion I’ll do it

  2. Hi Robert_Pat. I'm not sure I understand #5. Anyhow, I tried techniques similar to what you suggested during our toddler's 2nd birthday:

    - off camera, SB-800 triggered wirelessly, 1/4 CTO gel, ISO set at 800.

    I think hard light is more challenging and the shots needed more 'rescuing' in postprocessing. In any case, thank you for posting your suggestions for anyone to try.


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