Flash Bounce

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by stephen dohring, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. Professional flashes should have a slide up card that will throw the light forward while bouncing of the ceiling. Slide in and out no hassle. Same outside I never use straight on flash unless your very experienced or have a lot of time you will see hot spots and changes in clothing color tones on group shots. I angle the flash just over the heads of the subject using the card to bounce down for the eyes. Meter for the ambient and add fill flash, compensate down so it looks like there was no flash used. If you don't have a high end flash you can make a better bounce card which folds up and down easy and fast and throws more light forward or Al's business card method. www.abetterbouncecard.com

    YOUR QUOTE: "Ambient light is aquired by lowering the shutter speed and flash for the subject"

    It can can also be aquired by opening up the aperture.
  2. To get soft light - especially important for wedding photography we are told
    to bounce off ceiling or side walls. But doing this requires that some light
    is also thrown forward to remove shadows under the eyes and on the face.
    Ambient light is aquired by lowering the shutter speed and flash for the

    Having said that, what do you add to your flash in various/all situations?
    The built-in bounce card? Your own bounce card? None? Diffuser? Stofen
    etc. I've read the usual tutorials but they don't really cover
    recommendations and generally seem to be implying just a flash gun is used and
    don't mention bounce cards and such. Taking the bounce card on and off seems
    like a hassle and wondered how others work. What about outside? No walls to
    bounce from there so I guess a bounce card or diffuser. I'm using Canon
    equipment btw.
  3. Outside I use straight on flash. Unless the background is very close you're unlikely to get disturbing shadows on it. Without nearby surfaces above and to the sides a Stofen or similar is just eating up light and batteries. Using an umbrella or soft box would be better for nearby subjects but it's doubtful that your clients would notice the difference.

    Indoors I keep a a rubber band around the head of my Vivitar 283, which holds half a dozen buisiness cards on the top of the flash, out of the way. When doing a bounce I pull one half way out and bend it slightly forward to kick a bit of fill into the shadows. When someone asks for a card I give them one right off the flash, no fishing around in a pocket.
  4. "Professional flashes should have a slide up card that will throw the light forward while bouncing of the ceiling." - Yes, and some do, even though they may not be of "professionsl" duty flashes.

    Inspect closely Nikon SB-800.

    It has 2 cards built-in ready to slide out. One is a reflector and the other one is a diffuser. Better yet use the Nikon supplied "Dome" that is like Stoffen, exept customized for SB-800 and works with micro switches in the SB-800 body, announcing Dome presence and disengaging the Zoom feature of the flash when installed on the flash. (that is the flash zoom will not follow the lens zoom position if any of the cards is pulled out, or the original Nikon supplied Dome is installed).
  5. The concept is as you described. How you achieve the result depends on the situation. I've used the Omnibounce, Gary Fong's Tupperware, the Nikon diffuser supplied with the SB800 and most recently "a better bounce card" which may be the simplest and most versatile solution. Check out abetterbouncecard.com to learn how to make one for a few pennies.

  6. Yes Paul I've made some bounce cards using that tutorial - do you always keep it on camera though?
  7. That's an interesting idea Steve - aiming above their heads and bouncing down. I use a 430EX which has a slide out card. Although I want to get a 580 at some stage. Using the built-in one is certainly less hassle - have you compared the results to the bigger bounce card?
  8. I have velcro on my flash heads to be able to add gels and other things including bounce cards. Also have stofen omnibounce but seldom use them.

    When bouncing I mostly bounce without anything as I found that a wide zoom setting bounce will throw enough light forward unless I'm very close (and then I use the card).

    When I can't bounce I found that the stofen is just a waste of recycling time. Straight flash can sometimes cause hot spots though but to solve that the light source needs to be bigger so stofen doesn't do much. Right now I live with the occational hotspot or use off camera lighting but I'm looking forward to see what people use for this. Mini softboxes, large bounce devices like lumiquest springs to mind though.
  9. Use whatever you can when it is appropriate. You can use a person wearing a white shirt, etc. Just this past Sunday using my hand worked pretty well for a specific circumstance. Typically, though, I use the built-in bounce card. This doesn't work too well when shooting vertical though. That is when "a better bounce card" is better. I use the lightsphere if the room is small, or I am near at least one wall. Outside, I don't mind shooting straight-on, but I sometimes use the lightsphere with the cap on, fired straight-on. Also, don't forget to bounce off the floor. It doesn't always seem like a good idea, but it works great on the beach.

    I have had the best success with just adding a second light. It can be a hassle at times, but is almost always worth it.
  10. I use a Demb Flash Diffuser Pro: the bounce card is hinged, so it can be adjusted quickly and easily for the desired amount of bounce, or just swung completely out of the way. The front diffuser attaches to the mounting strap with just a couple of hook/loop "dots," so it comes off easily when not needed, and goes back on nearly as quickly.

  11. I use the Flip-it by Dembflash, but I bought mine before they came out with the pro version, so I use it with the nikon defuser when up close and take the defuser off for distances over 15 ft. or so and then I use the built-in defuser in the SB-800. It does eat up batteries but is worth it for the nice soft lighting. Using the two together cuts the shadow under the chin and gives me better catchlights in the eyes. Plus, I can put it on a lightstand and along with a defused popup get some nice modeling. I just make sure I have plenty of batteries. Outside I take the defuser off and just bounce it off the flip-it for fill or use the flash iTTL-BL without either defuser or flip-it.
  12. If I may add a side question to this....
    does anyone ever have the built in card (on SB-800) pulled out at the same time as having the diffuser on??
  13. What about diffusers? Good for indoor group shots?
  14. Not at all Peter - I like to open-up discussion on related topics.
  15. One thing that helped me understand "good" light and what different modifiers actually do was to understand what soft light and hard light really are. When you understand that, you know what a diffuser actually does and how the size of the light source relative to the distance will affect the result. Bouncing of a nearby wall or ceiling is nothing short of using a large diffusing reflector pretty close to the subject. Next thing to learn about is specular reflection. That's what gives shine, hot spots, catch lights in the eyes etc - often called specular highlights.

    When you realize what different modifiers do it also easier to see through the marketing.

    If somebody has a good link explaining these things that would be nice. I learned from watching Dean Collins. His lighting videos are available on DVD.
  16. Sorry Stephen - hope my post above wasn't too off topic or high jacking.
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Addendum to the options:

    > YOUR QUOTE: "Ambient light is aquired by lowering the shutter speed and flash for the subject"

    It can can also be aquired by opening up the aperture. <

    and `acquired` by:

    ISO adjustment (digital)

    or physically different film (ISO)

    or change film speed and the appropriate push.

  18. Actually Peter's comments are on-topic. The thing I was going to say was that different modifiers do different things in different environments so trying to settle on just one bounce method or modifier that will cover every situation is impossible. I actually carry 3 different modifiers in my shoulder bag at weddings, and a fourth one in my rolling case, besides using no modifier but the head pointed at any convenient bounce surface, and just the pull out white card on my flash. Depends on the situation.

    One of the best things to do is to experiment. But do it in various environments, not just on stuffed animals for subjects in your average small room at home. You'd want to experiment in the kind of environments you would typically be shooting in.

    Re the size of the bounce card--bigger isn't always better, although you would think the opposite, based on the fact that a bigger source of illumination gives softer light. The thing is, and this took me a while to figure out--a bounce card on the flash actually re-focuses the light from the flash, and if you use a big bounce card, you are actually preventing some of the light from reaching the back walls of your environment (which would contribute to the softer effect), and the re-focused light from the bounce card is actually harder, and can approach the same hard shadows as you would get from direct flash. Sometimes I even partially push down the flash's white card for closer subjects to make it smaller so less light is re-focused. Same with using a Lightsphere in a room with low ceilings--the light is refocused by the low ceiling and you get a very "downward spotlight" kind of effect, which I don't like.

    You might want to read the planetneil article. It doesn't cover all aspects of bouncing, but does show good examples of what you can do just by bouncing off nearby surfaces.
  19. The dragging the shutter reference about ambient light was just a summary and no more - thanks anyway.

    Nadine your point about using a small bounce card makes sense - afterall it's flash bounce off a large surface that generates the softness - not the amount of light thrown forward by the bounce card (which is nearer direct flash). I just tried some test shots on a (semi) willing volunteer just now and the built-in bounce card gave a softer light than the 'build a better bounce card' version - although using the foam card I use, it can be adjusted.

    The planetneil article was the one I was talking about. He mainly talks about situations that don't really need flash - but just enough to lighten by a fraction (which improves the photograph).

    Diffusers and bounce cards are barely mentioned - it's as if everything is bounced with a bare flashgun - even an empty room is used (wide aperture though). That's why I asked the question.

    "so trying to settle on just one bounce method or modifier that will cover every situation is impossible"

    But any guidelines? It probably seems second nature to you, but I'm trying to find some basic guidelines I can apply as a starting point.
  20. "does anyone ever have the built in card (on SB-800) pulled out at the same time as having the diffuser on??"

    Yes, I think you can pull out the diffuser and flip it over the flash head (it is transparent plastic), and at the same time pull out the reflector card (it is just an opaque piece of white plastic).

    However, reflector card extended (pulled out of the flash head), will prevent placing the Dome diffuser over the head. I think you could place the Dome diffuser over the diffuser in flat flipped position over the head, (?), but I never tried that, as it perhaps makes less sense ? with the Dome over it.
  21. Some guidelines:

    1. Almost any bounce or bounce modifier works well in white or light colored rooms--even big ones--due to the high reflectivity. Here, any light going behind you helps, so a small white card just to fill eye sockets is good. Big white cards hinder because it cuts light going behind you and re-focuses the light forward, causing harder shadows. In a white or light colored room, you could walk around with the flash head pointed behind you and still get creamy light. I believe Jammey Church has done just that. (One modifier that works well in small white rooms with low ceilings is the OmniBounce--yet it doesn't work that well in large white rooms with medium/high ceilings. The light doesn't get to the ceilings and walls to be re-bounced so it reverts to a small point light source. Same thing happens with the LS with the dome on. Take the dome off, and it is a difference story.)

    2. The ceiling height makes a difference because of the flash beam being re-focused and causing the downward spotlight effect I mentioned above. For low ceilings, you need to cut the focusing of the light by diffusing it. That's what the dome on the Lightsphere is for and why Gary Fong recommends you use the dome with low ceilings.

    3. In large spaces that have sections where there are beams and slider door openings, the light you bounce in one section will not get to the other sections, causing the dreaded dark backgrounds. Nothing but multiple lights will help this situation although the light on your subject will be nice.

    4. In situations where you are following action, you don't have time to figure out which wall to bounce off, so you need a bounce set up that you don't have to fiddle with for every move the subject makes. In situations where you have the time, using good wall bounce usually gives nicer light than ceiling bounce.

    5. You will get color casts from bouncing if the walls and ceiling are strongly colored. Some modifiers such as the Demb Diffuser used with the card straight up is a good compromise between hard light and full soft bounce while mitigating color casts.

    6. You will not get anywhere trying to bounce in a dark room with dark walls and ceilings. Here you'd depend on a modifier that "created" it's own diffusion or softness in and of itself, although it can be surprising how much reflectivity you can get from someone standing closeby, or other objects in the space, including the floor, as someone points out above. This is where having a bigger bounce card is better.

    If I think of any more, I'll add to the above.
  22. 7. Forgot about outdoors, which is similar to point 6, above. Nothing to bounce off, so use a modifier that diffuses (cuts specularity off skin, etc.) and makes the light source bigger than just the flash head without impeding the portability and usability of the camera with the modifier on. I often use an OmniBounce but with the flash head forward, not tilted, except for just past the detent, so that the flash beam is forced to spread out to 50 degrees. A small on-camera softbox will work well too. For shooting against the bright sun, you must often use direct flash with no modifier since it cuts the flash's reach but that's OK, since the bright sun is hard light anyway.
  23. Nice work Nadine!

    I just wanted to add that it's not always you will need anything on your flash because if you tilt the head forward some light will go straight to your subject. IMHO the nice thing about the different card options contrary to stofen etc, is that you can decide the ratio of light going forward and light going up.

    The attached photo is ceiling bounce, head tilted slightly forward, no modifier, widest zoom setting, almost no natural light except slightly backlit.
  24. Wow! Thanks Nadine, helpful as always. Also, thanks to everybody that responded. Lots to think about there.
  25. Peter, the light going straight forward can be not so flattering, though if it hits your subjects directly. When I force my flash head into a wide angle to stop the focusing effect off lower ceilings, I often add just the diffuser part of the Demb Diffuser on the front of the flash to soak up and spread the light going forward.

    Also--sometimes I start out thinking one thing will work well and discover it doesn't, so I go on to something else. That's why I have different modifiers in my bag and case.
  26. Nadine, just a side note:

    Do you find the Demb is your most used?

    I personally like the size/weight best of this kind of thing.
    Thanks, D.
  27. Agree with Al & Nadine.
    One thing also to consider is your ISO when bouncing the flash.
    If you are shooting at 100 or 200 ISO you might need a battery back
    like the Quantum Turbo series. Otherwise your flash may not be able to keep up with you. If you shoot at 400 or 800 ISO then no problem. The NIMH's should work fine.
  28. David--not really. I kind of use all of them equally--except that I don't often use the OmniBounce inside unless I'm in a small white room. At reception halls, it is either the Demb, Lightsphere or no modifier with just the pull up card, plus usually some off-camera lighting too. I find the Demb Diffuser with card straight up or slightly forward really useful for processionals in big churchs with high ceilings. As mentioned--a good compromise between full soft light and hard light, and you can use ISO 400 at f5.6 up to about 12 feet without problems. For dark halls with dark walls, ceiling and floor (I've shot in several like this), I use off-camera light plus the blow-up Photoflex on camera soft box. It has a curved front to maximize any reflectivity should any be hiding among all that dark, and only has a half stop light loss.
  29. Hey Stephen,
    I also use a 430EX. I think you are mistaking the 14mm pull-out panel for a bounce card. I'm assuming you are not pulling it out all the way until it lays over the flash head. Does that actually work?
  30. I'm not pulling out the panel all the way because it's on a hinge and doubles as a diffuser if you do.

    It does seem to work well in my limited tests and removed any shadows on the face - I'll need to do more tests though.
  31. Actually Steve, I'm still experimenting and thought it was worth a go.

    I think the 'better bounce card' might be better if I peeled back the foam card I use to lower the height - because it's adjustable and wider - maybe use full height for certain situations.

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