bounce flash – choices and control
This favorite images from a recent wedding, is one which I’d like to analyze a little as to what went into creating it.
First of all, I am usually quite specific about my backgrounds. A cluttered background can really bring down an image which might otherwise have worked. So in a case like this, when creating the romantic portraits outside the venue with this couple, I was on the look-out for something interesting to work with. When I saw the twinkly lights in the trees outside, I knew that it would definitely make a great out-of-focus background.
I then needed to position the couple in relation to the background – and in this case use a lens with a longer focal length to help place them. A wide-angle lens would’ve given too wide a field of view. I need a tighter composition.
But in how I wanted to position the couple, I also knew the light on them wasn’t ideal. I would have to add on-camera flash as a quick fix for the lighting. Since I was working alone, I couldn’t rely on an assistant to hold a reflector or an umbrella / softbox. I therefore looked for something to bounce my flash off .. and I figured that I could bounce my flash off the outside walls of the venue. I did so at an angle, that I could still have a measure of directional light on them.
These two things then combined to make it this particular spot that I used:
- an interesting background, and
- an area I could bounce flash off.
Since I knew I would be losing a lot of light from my on-camera speedlight in bouncing flash off a large wall outside, the short telephoto that I wanted to use, also needed to be a fast optic.
However, if these lenses seem out of reach, then both the Nikon 85mm f1.8 and the Canon 85mm f1.8 (B&H), are excellent and affordable optics that will open up a whole new look to your images if you’re only used to the depth-of-field of slower zooms.
For the final image at the top, my camera settings were: 1/60th @ f2 @ 1600 ISO, TTL flash.
Here’s a test shot without flash, where I made sure the intended background worked:
The final image at the top then is a combination of choices and controlling the situation. Nothing there is arbitrary. The choices made were in terms of the setting; the composition; the use of flash to augment the lighting and in directing the couple .. finally culminating in an image that i love.