using bounce flash vs. available light vs. using the videographer’s light
The expressive trumpet player in the band at a wedding – a simple portrait of this musician, sweetened with some bounce flash. The light on his face, is by now perhaps predictably, on-camera bounce flash with the black foamie thing. Looking at the light pattern on his face, you’ll see there was no direct flash of any kind.
In comparison, here are a few other images. One with no flash, so we can see the effect of the bounce flash. Another image with just available light; and another image where I was able to use the light from the videographer’s camera …
The same shot as at the top, but with the flash disabled. This is the available light as it appeared with the camera settings where I had used bounce flash - for comparison so you can see the effect the on-camera bounce flash had.
1/60 @ f2.8 @ 2000 ISO
Here is the same image, but with available light only, using the existing light in the room. Now we’re really pushing the limits, and a wide aperture on the 85mm lens, and the highest ISO on the camera (Nikon D3) that I’m still comfortable using. The shutter speed is also fairly slow, and I had to take a series of images to get a few that are sharp enough. Despite the popular belief, 1/60th just isn’t fast enough to hand-hold, and isn’t fast enough either when your subject is moving. And no, a third stop jump to 1/80th wouldn’t have magically solved that problem either, for those who are thinking of a shutter speed in relation to the focal length.
1/60 @ f1.4 @ 3200 ISO
Nikon D3; Nikon AF-S Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (Amazon)
I changed the WB in raw post-processing to give me the most pleasant tones.
When the videographer’s light came into play, I changed my settings again:
1/100 @ f1.4 @ 3200 ISO // no flash
I had to pull down the exposure by 0.6 stops in raw post-production.
So here are three different ways to use light to photograph an impromptu portrait – in this case, of a portrait of a band member playing at a wedding.
Personally, I like on-camera bounce flash here for allowing me control over my camera settings – i.e., less risk of camera shake, and I have more say in what the aperture and ISO should be. And the image looks quite natural – there’s no indication that on-camera flash was used. But in a way, there’s no wrong or right – as long as it looks good. And as long as you are able to consistently deliver the goods. Make it work!
related articles on bounce flash photography
- video clip: using the black foamie thing
- directional bounce flash
- the black foamie thing
- throw away the tupperware on your flash
- how to get ‘short lighting’ with bounce flash
- wedding photography – dealing with the videographer’s light