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I may have to use This Bounce Flash technique

dbrunodbruno Member
edited December 2016 in flash & lighting

I don't know if I will have to use this, but I am shooting an event at the New England Aquarium this weekend. I never use direct flash, but there are heavy restrictions on the use of flash in general. I have talked with the event manager who assures me many photographers have had success there with wedding receptions, etc. Any lights on stands are not allowed. There is a huge central tank, a walkway around it, and open exhibits on the opposite side from the tank along the walkway. Maybe no place to bounce, so I may have to practice this unusual technique Neil has in this Tangents post. I will have to be prepared, as I haven't been to this place in 20 years since my kids were small.



  • Hi Dave, 

    That is definitely a feasible option. I would just hate to hold a reflector all night. I am not sure if you work alone or not, but can someone hold an off camera flash on a monopod? You could get directional light without the hassle of holding a reflector. For what it is worth, if thats not an option, you could always use some sort of flash modifier. Such as the spin 360, fong dong etc....Not the best options, but sure beats holding a reflector in the air the whole time. 


  • Hi, Jay - I may have to resort to this for only part of the night. I'll see when I get there. Also, looking at some of the promo photos on their website, I could rely on the multitude of different spotlights sprinkled around the place.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016

    As long as the spotlights are not 'uplight' (Hollywood Horror Lighting) or you are directly beneath them since you will have very savage 'racoon' eyes for sure.

    If you are in a pinch like I have been on a couple of occasions, just guys with white shirts, and even the bride on one time, to turn their back to me, as I shot outdoors onto her 'trinket' table, with greetings, cards, gifts, etc. and bounce off the white dress on her back.

    She enjoyed it actually and even asked me to take some other shots totally outdoors of things and she was my reflector, and usually someone with a white shirt will oblige also, but, have their backs to the 'target' you don't want to blind them.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    It was definitely as awkward as it looked, but it worked! 
  • Awkward, Neil? Nah.

    Thanks, Trev and Neil. I will just have to go with what is allowed. What I do know is flash is not allowed in and around the live-animal exhibits, some of them are along the walkway around the central tank. Should be interesting and a good challenge.

    Trev - I can just imagine bouncing a flash of the bride's backside: "Hey, turn around for a minute ..." Truly going with what's available.

  • I picked up a monopod just in case. I have stabilized lenses, but if I can do what Neil did with the reflector, but have the camera on a stick, it might help. $15 bucks at Target.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    edited December 2016
    "There is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark" - Roger Waters (?)

    It was so freaking dark in that aquarium last night, Black walls, black ceiling. I had to use the "technique" on almost all the shots that were taken along the walkway the went around the top of the central tank where the hour-long reception was held. After a number of shots, I got a feel for the separation between the reflector and the flash head. I had to go from TTL flash (closer distance shots) to almost full manual flash (greater than 10 feet).

    Try getting a good candid holding this big white triangle up in the air - hahaha.

    As we moved downstairs to the bottom floor, the restriction was no flash of any kind towards the penguins. I found a couple of areas where I could pose people with a nice background where I could bounce my flash. But, a good deal of the ground floor was also exceptionally dark as well.

    Photos will need a fair amount of highlight and exposure adjustments.

    Quite challenging.
  • You did what you had to do and I am sure it all worked out fine. Would love to see a few of the shots taken for reference. Also food for thought. Now everything from now on will be easy:) Gotta get a few tough jobs, just to keep us grounded. 

  • Well, here is one shot I took from about 30 (?) feet away from the crowd. ISO 2500, 40 mm, f2.8, 1/100, Canon 6D. As I was far away, I used full manual on my 580EX II Speedlite bounced into the 24-inch triangular reflector, no gel. I've posted the Raw, and what I did to it in LR.

    I'm sure there will be comments, but this is why photography is subjective. To my eye, I can see the attendees while still conveying it was pretty dark.

    I'll put up maybe one or two more of close-ups of people in a bit.

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  • OK, one more .... I had the flash on TTL, but I'm not sure if I goosed it a little. I had to switch between TTL and Manual on the flash depending on the distance.

    The SOC is a bit washed out, as the temperature was around 4800. I shot a gray card at the beginning of the night, but stupidly I did it without using the reflector, trying to bounce of the pitch-black walls :0
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  • TTL flash on the couple was increased to +2-2/3, according to my camera info.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016

    Good effort.

    One thing I did notice and I know many do not know or don't use, but you have greater control also under the 'Tone Curve' Palette Tool Box, in there you have Lights/Darks/Shadows/Highlights and they give added better control in conjunction with using the 'Basic' Tab.

    eg: Even though there are 2 Highlights, 1 each in Basic and Tone Curve, they do give different results.
    On a test image I went -85 in the Highlights in the Basic Tab, which reduced the Highlights in the 'strong' Highlights, but then added +50 in the Highlight slider in the Tone Curve, and this altered the slightly darker Highlights and it also gave the skin tones a nice lift.

    Along with other adjustments I got this result, but I will admit I put it into Photoshop to give it a bit better lift in sharpening as LR (which I turned off sharpening in) has a 'global' sharpening, ie: it applies it over all the image where my action in PS has masks to protect the skin tones.


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  • Hi, Trev - I'll give that a try.

    I would be interested to see the photo you posted before the adjustments.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016


    Here it is.

    This is file with no adjustments and NO default sharpening, in LR with WB 'As Shot'.
    Flat and horrible, no crispness at all, and certainly needs adjusting.


    This shows the Mask I use to protect skin:


    This shows the Amount of Sharpening I apply using a 'White Fringe' (like edges):


    This shows the Amount of Sharpening I use on the Black Fringe:


    If you look at the Sharpening settings and the preview, you will see an enormous amount of sharpening taking place and it looks terrible, but the power of the masks neutralises those settings to give that great crispness overall (see the detail in the original image I posted in her lace top) but leaves the skintones alone.

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  • Thanks, Trev! Very informative - Dave
  • TrevTrev Moderator


    Just realised, I should have shown you precisely 'as shot' and if you were a jpeg shooter you would have got this straight from camera.

    In the general scheme of things it looks fine, but when compared to a full 'edit' of RAW + PS sharpening, it falls short.

    Contrast still not good, (to me) and no crispness/detail to image like my initial edit. Blacks seem to have 'merged' into other shades and no real 'black' definition, again to my eyes.

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  • Trev

    I played with the Tone Curve sliders as you suggested on
    some sample images and I like the results.

    Thanks for the tip.


  • TrevTrev Moderator


    Good to see.

    Here is another top tip, you can control (to a degree) what you can lighten but retain the midtones/shadows on the image (hard to do because ALL adjustments in LR are global - over all the image).

    You can just move your cursor onto the curve line, click and drag up/down, (lighten/darken) say on the top part of the curve's Linear Line for light, but then move to another location near the bottom and push it back down, see image, up arrow to lighten, down arrow to darken, that way I could lighten the skin tones more, but pushing the shadows down a bit I retained the depth of the midtones/shadows more then just using a slider.

    Also, there is a tiny radial button beside that Palette, click and move it actually onto the image, click drag up/down to do the same, but again that's global so you may want to select a Shadow area to drag down again to darken. It's an art.


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  • Hi, Trev - It was interesting to see you leave the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders alone. By using these other Tone Curve sliders, are they some how taking the place of the Presence family of controls? Everything is subjective of course, but unless I'm doing a close-up of someone, I use the Presence sliders, my default is 10/30/10 (Clarity/Vibrance/Saturation). Just curious ...

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016

    To be quite honest, those LR posted Edits are quite rare to me and was only a sample to show you, because I do 99% of full edits in Photoshop though an action I use which controls Color, Contrast, Contrast Boost, Sharpening.

    If you say, push the Saturation up to 50% and have a look at the ugly colour shift, in my opinion, if it's wrong at 50%, it's also 'wrong' at 10-15% because you are changing, especially skin tones, the real colours. Control by the actual WB is a preferred method.

    Clarity, well see below, I use it, but, in a totally different way, not in LR's Slider Option.

    There is a Pre-Process part of my action which opens the image in ACR (LR has same 'engine') and in there to get crunch/detail the action will do a full 100% Clarity, but, and this is important, it's done through Channel Masks and also in the background via Calculations to create further masks and I also have control over how much I want with several options buried in the action to adjust the amount I put on.

    Then, on top of that, I have that 'Detail' Layer (Clarity) using the Blend If Mode to bring up the Shadows from beneath, around 60% so they don't look HDR which leaves the whites getting great detail, and of course I have Red Channel Mask in place to protect the skin tones.

    It took me around 5 minutes to adjust that image in LR above, ouch, waaay too long, as I can run the action and have it done in 30 seconds by controlling the amount for each setting I want with action buttons built into the main one.

    eg: Say I want to lighten faces, which are Midtone, I may apply a -6% by my Midtone action which brightens the entire image, but then I click on a special mask action which will reveal only the Red Channel showing in White on the mask, ergo the skin tone as White Reveals, Black Conceals is the mask motto.

    So just in LR, I will set my Temp/Tint, then I will deliberately drop exposure so it's around 1/2 stop under from what it should be, no contrast, no sharpening, and that's about it. When I run my +0.5 e/v (1/2 stop exposure evaluation) button, it lightens back up the entire shadow range, but it does not touch the Highlights, in fact the Highlights are brought back more because of my under-exposing and are protected, again by masks.

    I do all of that initial stuff in LR, export out as PSD's, then I can batch run my action on the entire lot overnight, come back in the morning and I have hundreds of layered PSD files all ready just to be tweaked.

    In the image below, you will see I have Colour with Boost/Clean.

    Boost will darken the colours to give it a richer flavour, and Clean, that's something I put in so I can 'decontaminate' the colours via the Selective Color Adjustment Layer, but the group is still run through masks, protecting in my case, the Red Channel (skin tones).

    eg: Red is made up of Magenta and Yellow, so I slide the Cyan to -100% to get pure reds; Blues are made up of Cyan and Magenta, so I slide the Yellow to -100% and this 'cleans' the colours and so on. The primary colours of Cyan/Magenta/Yellow, well all the sliders on each with the exception of the Primary Colour are -100%. eg: Yellow is, well yellow, so Cyan and Magenta are both set to -100%.

    That's how I can get great rich blue skies in weddings along with a little sneaky 'Polariser' action I have which Multiplies the layer and mask to reveal only the Blue Channel, which not only darkens the skies, but will Clean the Blues leaving a nice deep blue you naturally see.


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