A trick, revisited

With the holidays approaching, it is time for a refresher on an “event shooting” flash trick I have mentioned here before.

You all know how important it is to avoid, at least when the flash is on your camera, direct flash light reaching your subject. Both in order to avoid “flat” light, and especially to avoid those hard drop shadows, like this:

But you have also heard me talk (and those who come to my upcoming flash courses will learn hands-on) that you should “look for the virtual umbrella”. For most lighting, this means 45 degrees above, and in front of, the subject.

So when you are close to that subject, you aim your flash behind you to get to that point. Good.

But what when you are far, as when using a telephoto lens? In this situation, which happens at events, like receptions, the “virtual umbrella” may be in front of you. And aiming your flash straight, or even angled, forward is a no-no, since the subject will be lit in part by direct light, which will give you harsh shadows, and even worse, shadows from thesubject on the wall behind him or her.

A-ha. Unless you block the direct part of that light!

Like this:

As you see, I use a Honl Photo bounce card/gobo to block the direct light. Simple, affordable, and very effective. I use either the white bounce side, or the black flag side, depending on the ceiling and position.

Simple, effective – done!

And one more thing. Direct flash is not bad per sé. Not at all. As long as it is not coming from where your lens is, it can be very effective, like in this “funny face” shot of a student a couple pf years ago (you know who you are):

Lit by a direct, unmodified flash. And the hair light, the shampooey goodness? Yeah. The sun. Just saying.

So, you now have yet another trick in your basket. Go try it out!


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