Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Bounce Flash

Russ Burden is back from his latest nature tours (this time a 10 day trip along the Oregon and Northern California coasts) with this week's installment of the "Instructor's Tip."

Bounce Flash
Flash is a great tool as it allows photography to occur in situations
where it otherwise couldn’t. In poor light, flash can be used to
improve it. Direct flash in low light will allow you to capture an
image, but it doesn’t produce flattering light. But by bouncing that
light source off a ceiling or a wall, the light is softened netting a
pleasing wrap around effect.

Most accessory flash units tilt or swivel so their heads can be
positioned upward or sideways. In the upward configuration, the flash
can be bounced off the ceiling. In the sideways configuration, the
flash can be bounced off a nearby wall to create a sidelit effect.
The purpose of bouncing the light is to create a broader light
source. The broader the source relative to the size of the subject,
the softer the light.

Primary considerations that need to be addressed before using the
above techniques are how high are the ceilings and are they white. If
the ceiling is very tall, chances are the flash won’t have enough
power as the light has to travel from the camera to the ceiling and
back down to the subject. Opening up the aperture may help, but not
if the distance of the ceiling exceeds the power of the flash.
Secondly, if the ceilings are not white, whatever color they are,
those hues will be imparted to the subject and create an odd color
cast. White ceilings are the way to go as the reflected color will be
neutral. One final thought - bounce flash not only creates a nice
soft light source, it also prevents red eye.

- Russ

All photos in this post were taken by award winning photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ took the following photo in this post, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

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