Ready.. aim (flash)… shoot!

An event shoot the other night prompts me to point out how important it is to bounce your flash into the right place.

When you shoot an event, you:

  1. Set your camera to a good starting point: Manual mode, 400 ISO, f/4.0 and 1/30th sec.
  2. Use the right lens: perhaps 35mm prime (on a full-frame camera, or 24mm prime on a crop camera).
  3. Aim your flash roughly behind you.
  4. Fire.

That gives you images like this:

You now adjust aperture, shutter and ISO according to ceiling height, available ambient light, background colour, and “how you like it”. For a neutral, normally lit background you want your in-camera meter to read roughly -2 stops when taking an average reading. So take a test shot, adjust where needed, and carry on.

Fine. But where exactly do you aim?

You aim the flash:

  1. Where you want the light to come from. Usually this means behind you.
  2. And it should throw light into your subject’s face, not onto the back of their head.
  3. This flash bounce area must be outside the image area.
  4. And it must have a nice bounce surface (not too far, not too coloured).

If you do not get the bounce area right, you get this, where I got it wrong (I aimed the flash too far forward):

Instead of this, where I did it right (I aimed it behind me):

Because I aimed correctly, the wall behind me became a big virtual umbrella, and cast natural light throughout the room, not mainly into one area like in the previous shot.

Another couple of shots from the event:

I like warm backgrounds. That’s my style.

Dancing in dark rooms is hard to capture. Shoot a lot.

Yes – you can shoot in wood-paneled rooms too, but it can be challenging.

Want to read more? Watch out for the June/July issue of Photolife Magazine, with my article on “Flash: 20 problems, 10 solutions”. It should be in the stores any day now.

 

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