Bouncing flash is a photography technique wherein you don’t fire the flash directly on the subject but rather on some other object in such a way that the light bounces back and bathes the subject. The intention is to soften the light. Since it’s not possible to bounce light from a built-in flash, you need to have a portable flashgun to use this creative lighting technique. Bouncing improves the quality of light in your pictures since the light is spread in a wider pattern lighting the subject from different directions and removing the shadows, if there are any.
It also helps cut down on red eye, which happens when the light from the flash bounces off of a person’s eyes and then back to the lens of the camera.
To use the bounce technique, you need to have flash that comes with a bounce/swivel head or you need to be able to use the flash unit off of the camera.
The simplest way to bounce the flash light is to tilt the flash head upwards so it hits the ceiling. It will then bounce off it onto the subject. The surface you’re bouncing the flash should. If it’s not, the color of the surface will be picked up by the flash light and it will cast it over your subject.
However, if the surface does cast over the subject, you might be able to fix it in the white balance mode in the camera or by using an editing program on your computer. However, since the light from the flash is bouncing off of a surface it’s usually travelling further and this means it loses some power as the light will diminish.
Because of this, you should try and stay as close to your subject as you can. You might be restricted to about 10 feet, but it depends how string the flash unit is.
You don’t have to restrict yourself to bouncing the flash off of the ceiling though. You can also bounce the light off of walls. You should be able to bounce it off just about any surface as long as the light doesn’t have to travel a great distance to reach the subject.
But even though the light from the flash may be diminished, the bounced light is usually brighter than the light produced directly from a flash unit.
If you bounce the light upwards from the floor, the subject will be lit from below and this can cause a creative lighting method, which is often called ghoul lighting. Bounce lighting’s also quite common with studio photographers as it can create an even and soft lighting effect on their subjects.
Like all other methods of photography, bounce lighting can be experimented with and you can have a lot of fun with it. Just try it from several different angles and see how it affects your images.