Bounce flash – Adjusting the black foamie thing to be a snoot
During the day, as I photograph a wedding, I am continually mixing up the lighting, adapting and adjusting. It’s part of the process of giving my clients as much variety as possible, and also just being flexible in adapting to the demands of the various locations. It’s therefore a varied approach in using all kinds of light sources: off-camera flash, on-camera flash, video light and available light. It’s part of the fun, and part of the challenge of being a wedding photographer – thinking on your feet. Of course there’s extra pressure on you as photographer when you’re flown to Melbourne, Australia to photograph a wedding!
The morning after Peiwen and Eric’s wedding, they had the Tea Ceremony with the parents, and Peiwen was in traditional dress. I just had to get more portraits of the two of them, and with Peiwen in this striking red dress.
In the elevator lobby on their floor, there were these seats and mirrors and wood paneling that looked like it would make an elegant setting for some portraits of the couple. But the light there was uneven, and not very bright. I needed to add some light, but only had a video light with me, and on-camera flash. With that large mirror, someone holding up a video light would’ve involved a lot of Photoshop work. So the next option – bounce flash. But again, that large mirror there was a challenge.
Simply bouncing my on-camera flash to my left (using the black foamie thing), meant a splash of light on the wall behind me. Yes, I was hiding myself behind the reflection of Peiwen. Strange how such a petite woman can hide a burly photographer. (Hint, it’s the perspective.) Anyway, that splash of light had to not be there. It revealed my lighting, and ideally it should just be seamless.
To get the image at the top of this article, I simply turned the BFT into a full snoot by cupping my hand around it – no light escaped then to hit the wall behind me. All the light was blasted down the passage, and the reflected light opened up the image.
I popped out for one behind-the-scenes selfie to show my position.
Camera settings and photo gear (or equivalents) used
- camera settings: 1/80 @ f2.8 @ 1600 ISO; TTL flash
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G AF-S / Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II
- Nikon SB-910 Speedlight / Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite
- Nikon SD-9 battery pack / Canon CP-E4 battery pack
- a BFT (black foamie thing)
On-camera flash modifier – the black foamie thing
The BFT is held in position by two hair bands (Amazon), and the BFT is usually placed on the under-side of the flash-head.
The linked articles will give clearer instruction, especially the video clip on using the black foamie thing.
Post-processing of the main image was done with the RadLab plugins from Totally Rad, via a Vintage flavored recipe that I generated and saved. I used this on a layer, and pulled down the opacity to make it more subtle. You can download some of my RadLab recipes to try out and modify.
- The ultimate guide to the Black Foamie Thing
- A wedding in Melbourne, Australia
- Direction & Quality of light – your key to better portrait photography anywhere
- Lighting ideas for the romantic wedding portraits (Melissa & Dennis)
- Wedding photography – adapting the use of light & flash photography (Alesha & Patrick)
- more articles about wedding photography
- more of my work: New Jersey wedding photographer