Friday, October 29, 2010

Will It Bounce? Part 1: Pergola

Bouncing is a very useful technique for getting soft directional light, but it has its limits: it requires a lot of power, causes the flash to pick up a color cast from the bouncing surface, and creates lots of spill.  In this series we'll try to make bouncing work in extreme circumstances.  My hope is to make bouncing more useful in situations where previously I've assumed it wasn't possible.

We were dining outdoors on a patio at Ariel's Grotto (at Disney's California Adventure).  There was a white pergola overhead about 10 feet high, and a lot of yellowish fluorescent light:
With all those holes, would it be possible to bounce from that pergola?

I used 1600 ISO and f/2.8, then adjusted shutter to get an exposure that I liked for the lights in the background.  With just ambient light, it looked like this:
(ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/40)

This time, with an on-camera SB-800, I bounced the flash above and to the left in TTL-BL mode:
(ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/50)

Conclusion: it bounces!  I didn't test how bright the flash would have been at full power, though it seemed like there was a lot of juice left in the flash.  I suspect this will also work at late afternoon, as long as the area is shaded from the sun, and as long as aperture is at f/2.8.  Beyond that, I don't know yet.

Related posts:
Extreme Bounce Flash
12 Alternatives to Bouncing from Ceilings and Walls


  1. Oh it will bounce, as long as the ISO is high enough (~ above 800) and the aperture is 2.8 or larger.

    I bounced in extreme cases from dark brown stones which I thought isn't a single bit reflective and I got amazing photos. :-)

    Glad you can see how effective it can be, I'm buying a generic (Nikon, Canon, etc...) off-camera TTL cord and hopefully this will give me even more options.

  2. Hi mshafik. Thanks for sharing about your extreme bounce photo! I agree a TTL cord is useful whether or not you have a camera with a commander flash.

    Best regards,


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