DAZ QUICK TIPZ #1: Who Says On-Camera Flash Needs to Point Straight Ahead?


What a kick to be invited to be part of B&H's new B&H Insights blog. If you're reading this, you know that this is a great place to stop for the latest, greatest news about anything photo, video or sound related—tons of good information here. Since this is my first post for B&H Insights, let me give you just a bit of personal background.

• I'm a wedding/portrait photographer working in the vicinity of Cincinnati, Ohio.

• In just four weeks, we are hitting the trail with my new tour, "Captured By The Light 2010," again sponsored by B&H. Our first stops will be in Phoenix, Houston and Dallas. You can get all the info right here.  Also, use the B&H promo code, CBLBH10, to save yourself $20 when you register. I hope to see you there!

• My best-selling book, "Captured By The Light," has been a big favorite over at Amazon.com and is close to going into its third printing. It's one of their all time best-selling books on wedding photography and lighting.

• Last year, my Digital WakeUp Call tour, sponsored by B&H, received rave reviews from 10,000 photographers across 60 cities nationwide.

• I write a very popular daily blog called DigitalProTalk.com.

My goal here at B&H Insights is to bring you one of my "DAZ Quick Tipz" each week. They will be focused on lighting, photography, technique and gear.

DAZ QUICK TIPZ#1: Who Says On-Camera Flash Needs to Point Straight Ahead?

You might ask yourself, "What is this guy talking about?" What I'm talking about is one of the easiest ways to make your lighting exciting. Sure, 99.9% of the photographers shooting out there attach their shoe-mount flash to the top of their cameras and start shooting away.

All well and good, right? Sure, if you want your lighting to look like every other Tom, Dick and Mary out there. But you know what? You can make your light look pretty much like high-priced studio lighting with my QUICK TIPZ today.

All you need to do is rotate the flash head 90 degrees to the left or right and bounce it off a nearby wall. Yes, I said wall, not ceiling. Bouncing your flash off the ceiling creates some pretty ugly lighting. I call it “office lighting” because it has the same unappealing look as a bank of overhead fluorescent lights.

Check out this image. Pretty nice bride portrait, don't you think? All I did was bounce my on-camera flash off a nearby wall to camera left. This “photon ricochet” trick gave me the same-direction light that I would have gotten from a studio flash positioned in that same location. This side-bounce technique yields a really nice portrait. Cool, don't you think?

Here is a quick recap:

To get soft, even portrait lighting on your subject:

1. Rotate your on-camera flash 90 degrees to the right or the left and bounce the light off a nearby, light-colored wall.

2. Increase your ISO to at least 800. Bounced light loses a lot of its intensity, so you need to "juice" your camera's sensitivity to compensate.

3. Try to bounce off white or light-colored walls. That will save you the chore of major color correction in post production.

4. Have your subject turn their head ever so slightly in the same direction as your flash. It will create nice, even portrait lighting.

There you have it for this week's DAZ QUICK TIPZ. I'll see you same time, same place next week for another DAZ QUICK TIPZ you can use.

Don't forget to check out my new "Captured By The Light 2010" tour right here. And, don't forget to use the B&H promo code, CBLBH10, to save yourself $20 when you register.

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This is a great tip, but I have a question. Would the same effect work if you bounce the light off of a round silver or gold reflector?

Very simple, yet very effective. I like it.

So in essence what you're doing is turning a small light source (your flash) into a larger light source (the wall). Simple but smart.