Aiming for less harsh and flattened speedlight photography? Then bouncing your flash might be one of the next settings to go for. I used it mainly in nightclub, event and portrait photography, It’s one way to get more natural lighting and complete control when working in manual mode.
What exactly is bouncing?
As the name says, you’re not going to point your speedlight straight at your object, but you’ll focus it for example on a nearby wall to redirect the light onto your object. It’ll spread way more and fill in your picture more softly. Also people will get less annoyed by the power of your speedlight. I get actually asked quite often whether my speedlight actually fired.
A simple how-to
Check whether there is an interesting object nearby to bounce off. Preferably something white, or black and shiny. Something coloured might give you an unpleasant and wrong colour balance. Just keep in mind that your light source now isn’t any longer your speedlight, but the object you‘ll be using.
Also it might be more interesting not to bounce straight up to the ceiling, but a few degrees more towards the back. Then the light won’t fall straight from up, but a bit more from behind your camera, avoiding smokey eyes due to shadows. Special bounce accessories aren’t necessary in my opinion.
Auto or manual?
Here opinions differ among photographers. I prefer to work fully manual with both my camera and speedlight. Specially in nightclubs this is the best way out with constantly changing lighting. Besides that, every environment will have its own requirements when talking about those setting, so it’s hard to give a clear and steady idea. In manual mode I always work somewhere around this settings:
Camera (full frame)
Shutter speed: 1/100
ISO: 1200 Speedlight
Power output: 1/4
Set for wider group shots so the light spreads further
I will always use the speedlight’s built in infrared assist light in combination with the manual focus point on my camera. When the speedlight’s output is too low or too high, I will use the exposure compensation on my camera.
Good luck on your next shoot!