specifically choosing your direction of bounce flash
The reason why I want (if possible) only indirect light from my on-camera flash, is that any direct flash looks too harsh.
Here’s a typical example:
As you can see, using the Stofen helps to disperse some light and is a huge step up from direct flash. But you can also see in the entire frame that the light from top to bottom is uneven. In the close-up you can see how there is a hard shadow on the bride’s face, as well as some specular reflection on her skin from the flash directly from the Stofen. And in some way, any time there is flash directly from the flash modifier on your subject, you get this kind of light. It is inevitable.
On the right-hand side images, I simply took the Stofen off, and pointed the flash over my shoulder into the rest of the hallway. As you can clearly see, having only indirect light from the flashgun, completely changes the look of the image.
Remember : any time your subject can see your flash-tube you have direct flash.
This implies that if you are “bouncing” flash with the flash set to 45′ upwards, you’re not doing anything to improve your flash photography.
There are occasional times to do that with specific intent, but mostly it just gives bad results.
The key idea here is that bouncing your flash does not mean simply putting a flash modifier on your flashgun and pointing it at the ceiling.
As to why I prefer not to bounce from the ceiling – in a studio set-up you would most likely never set up a soft-box directly over someone’s head as the only light-source. Similarly, why would you want to bounce flash from above someone, if there are walls and other surfaces around to bounce from? Pointing the flashgun upwards is a poor choice compared to other possibilities when shooting indoors.
It is with this approach that I want to specifically choose where I want my light to come from.
There are times I do want to throw light forward from my flashgun.
But this is a specific choice, whether a short-cut or a specifically intended thing, or just a limitation of the scenario I am working in.