bounce flash

on-camera flash modifier system – Spinlight 360

For the past few weddings I have photographed, I’ve been testing out a new flash modifier – the Spinlight 360. I’ve been putting it through its paces, checking whether I like it and whether it would hold up during actual shooting of an event. And I do. So *this* post is the public premiere of this device. The auspicious announcement of the Spinlight 360

Instead of just diffusing flash, or having a bounce card, the Spinlight 360 also encompasses the idea behind the black foamie thing – that it is all about the direction of light, not just how your flash’s light is dispersed from on top of your camera.

I’ve had many people suggest I should sell the black foamie thing, but for me the BFT has always been about the technique, rather than the actual device. And I loved that it was so cheap and easily crafted. But it has its limitations when there is nothing to bounce your flash off, and you really need a bounce card to act as a larger surface to create softer light. Also, the BFT wasn’t easy to adjust from horizontal to vertical position. But with the Spinlight 360, you can easily rotate the black card which flags your flash. It is flexible and adaptable.

So here it is – a versatile modular on-camera flash modifier.

More info on the Spinlight 360, and info on how to order one.



combining flash and ambient light

Going by the emails that I receive, one of the areas that many photographers struggle with is that of combining ambient exposure and flash exposure.  This question  is also expressed in other ways.  It can be a frustrated, “where do we even start?”  I also often see it expressed as an involved step-by-step deconstruction of technique, making the entire process more complex than it is.

In reply to that, and many other emails I’ve received in the past few months, I’d like to offer an analysis of a few images from a recent shoot.

One of my favorite clients has the most adorable baby boy that she wanted some portraits of.  I had to shoot fast, since his attention span was .. oh, zero.   He’s still a baby!  I also wanted to be able to cover myself in getting some available-light only portraits, and some with bounce flash.  I didn’t want the flash to be overwhelmingly bright.  And in bouncing the flash, there was also less chance of disturbing the baby.   So I had to mix it up in order to get some variety, and be sure of images that worked.

The image at the top was shot with the Nikon D3 and the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S
Lighting here was a combination of available light and bounce flash.  And as usual, I used the black foamie thing to flag the flash so NO light from the flashgun fell directly on the child.

camera settings:  1/100 @ f4.5 @ 640 ISO, using TTL flash
The FEC was not recorded, but would’ve been around 0EV because my flash isn’t merely fill-flash here, but fairly dominant.

Now where the settings look like they might be informative, I also often feel that these numerical values are a diversion.  Too many photographers will get hooked on the choice of f4.5 over another aperture.  Whey 1/100th of a second?  Why 640 ISO?

The truth is that this could’ve been a different combination of settings.  What is important here, is the quality of light.  It is our major concern here, and should interest us more than f4.5 at this moment.

The light on the baby’s face is directional.  There is more light coming from camera left .. and from this you should be able to deduce that I did indeed bounce my flash to my left.  Using that piece of black foam to flag my flash, I was able to get directional light like that.

The light is soft. Since I bounced my flash into the room, and it bounced off the walls, and furniture, I will have soft light.

So those two aspects of the light from my flash is easily understood – soft directional light.

Now let’s look at how I chose to balance my flash with the available light …

Learn more inside…


why use an on-camera flash modifier that is black, instead of white?

This question repeatedly comes up as response to the various articles here on my favorite light modifier – the black foamie thing. For anyone new to this, here are the two main articles on how I use a piece of black foam to flag my on-camera speedlight.

The question invariably comes up:
why a piece of black foam and not a white card or a piece of white foam?

Looking at this image, which also appears in my book on flash photography:

Learn more inside…


using bounce flash outdoors

January 3, 2008

using bounce flash outdoors

While the bounce flash techniques described on these pages are heavily dependent on shooting indoors which provide those places to bounce flash off … it wouldn’t seem possible to use these techniques outdoors.  After all, you can’t bounce flash off the clouds.  (Although we’ve all seen photographers attempt this outside.)

So while there are obvious limitations in applying these bounce flash techniques outdoors, there are times when these techniques can still be quite effective.

This example, also shown in the tutorial pages is of this image taken at a wedding that I photographed in Aruba.

Here I had my daughter hold up the gold side of the Lastolite reflector. And hopefully this gives the idea of light from the sun setting over the ocean. (It had just gone down, and the light was blandly grey.)

However, these bounce flash techniques do imply some kind of surface to bounce your flash off.  But you shouldn’t feel limited by not having an obvious area to bounce light off.

Learn more inside…