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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Bouncing Flash off Brick Walls

Hey, All - I just got a booking for a Class Reunion at a restaurant, and I was just told it will be in a room with all brick walls. I need some tips on bouncing off brick - WB, power, color cast, etc. I think Neil wrote an article a while back, but I can't find it. Any advice is appreciated.



  • Found it. But still looking for any thoughts, as this is from 2009. Maybe nothing has changed?

    Bouncing on-camera flash off a brick wall

  • Hi Dave, yes had that problem many times over the years at events and weddings. I always take a grey card reading and set in camera WB for the main light source (such as Tungsten). Just apply some common sense and note where you are bouncing the flash to minimise any issues. I do shoot in RAW so can always tweek color later during post production. Best of luck!
  • Thanks, Paul. I do always shoot RAW, and I'm getting better at positioning myself for the best surface to bounce off (if there is a mix of surfaces), and also asking people to go to a spot where I want them - within reason of course.

  • Hey, I had that event last Friday night, a 20-year reunion of a Medical Fellowship given at a local hospital. I read one of Neil's articles, started at 3700K, then shot a gray card in a couple of spots. The temp got to be in the 3500-3600K region for most, but some of them had to go way down because of some orange-tinted ceiling boards in the back of the room, some had to have -10 on the orange slider. Here are a couple:

    Freakin orange.
  • Hi Dave,

    Long time no post! for me that is! LOL Hope your doing well. Color and skin tones looks decent and clients will be happy,  but on my monitor they look a tad underexposed. I am sure this is due to different monitors but figured I would mention it just in case. 

  • Hey, Jay - It was pretty dark-ish in that room, and in my mind sometimes in these situations I tend to develop photos that keep in line with what the room environment was like. I don't know if this is the right thing to do, but if I attend an event in a dark room (and not working), and the photos are bright, I sometimes think to myself "I don't remember it being that bright".

  • Yes I hear ya! Definitely personal taste and the two images you posted do look good, so you accomplished what you were trying to achieve. Kudos!

  • Neil - before this event, I read your article about bouncing off brick.

    So, there are things I have been learning, and I still have misconceptions, as I get more an more experience photographing all kinds of events in all kinds of situations:

    - I have learned to be REALLY careful that my aperture is not too wide open. I take a lot of photos of people informally posing for me, and if they are not in the same plane or close to it, some are slightly out of focus. I now am typically at F5.6 as I walk around a room, except if I want to isolate someone in a candid shot.
    - My shutter speed is always at 1/125 or 1/160, because I'm usually photographing people in the midst of conversation, or speakers in the middle of a talk. The only time it would change is if I'm going for an effect, like someone swirling wine in a glass at a tasting (I just had one of those).
    - I am no longer afraid to use my on-camera flash in full manual power. Most of the time it's the only way I can get any control of the light.

    My big misconception: ISO 3200 and above is a big no-no. I guess after seeing people on this forum - especially Neil - using ISO 3200, I have to believe it's OK to do so. But I'm still very apprehensive about it, but not sure why. I never shot film in a good camera for money, so I really don't know what my problem is other than not crazy about relying more heavily on computer processing.

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Just a thing on the high ISO, it's not the fact the ISO can be used higher, it depends on the camera make/model, Neil uses D5's which have a fantastic ISO range which concerns noise, colour moire, etc.

    I use D3s and will not go over 2000 or rarely, depends on the shot, and rely on bigger flash/power to compensate, so you need to see what's important.

    One thing I will say though, when you can see noise on a screen when you zoom in on the image, it won't print like that, the noise is 'lost' more in printing rather than a pixel reliant screen in full zoom mode.
  • Thanks, Trev. My "spare" camera is my old T3i, just for emergencies, and I won't go over 1000 iso on it. The 6D it seems is pretty good, and I've had some good success at 3200.

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