Note: this is not a post to poke fun at people who do not use their flashes correctly. I’m merely using them as examples so we can all learn from them.
When shooting outdoors, there is NO REASON to bounce your flash upwards. Since there is no ceiling, bouncing your flash upwards is effectively wasting it. Putting a stofen diffuser to create a barebulb effect is also wasting flash power because light is directed to places where it is not needed and it greatly reduces the flash output.
In this example, the subject is in front and the lens can only capture whatever that is in front so why direct light to the sides (red arrows) where it will not affect the lighting of the subject and the outcome of the photo? The correct way is to shoot without the diffuser.
When the flash head is tilted forwards, take off the diffuser because your main intention now is to illuminate the subject in front so there is no reason to throw light in other directions where it will not affect the outcome of the photo.
When bouncing your flash, first you must know what you are using to bounce the light off. In the following examples, there were nothing nearby that can bounce back the light from the flash to illuminate the subject. So effectively the flash is wasted.
Again, there’s nothing to bounce this flash against so all light output from the flash will be wasted. In this case, it is better not to use a flash or you can use direct flash to fill in the shadows.
In conclusion, when outdoors, don’t bounce against the sky. It’s useless. You can bounce your flash off a wall, off an object, or off a person. But make sure that your flash is powerful enough for the bounced light to effectively illuminate your subject. If not, just use direct flash to fill in the shadows. Meter for ambient and dial down flash compensation to around -1.3. It should bring out the details and colors of your subject.
More on proper flash usage soon. Continue reading