Bounce Lighting

using a single, simple flash unit (with diagrams)

Off the wall!

Direct flash is extremely harsh and often casts unwanted shadows. Try bouncing the flash off of a reflector next to the model for a much softer light.

The following results used an SB-600 external flash unit attached to a Nikon D80 angled towards and bounced off a wall.

For different lighting effects, try adjusting:

  • the angle of the flash unit towards the reflector
  • the angle of the model towards the reflector
  • the distance between the flash and reflector
  • the distance between the reflector and model
  • the color of the reflector

Experiment with different angles, distances, and placements! Try it out and see for yourself. 

Again, you can substitute a reflector with a wall. The external flash can be attached to your camera or separated and attached to a stand for more flexibility in angle, distance, and placements.

Off the ceiling!

Try bouncing the flash off of the ceiling above the model instead for a much softer and natural looking light as achieved in the results on the right.

This technique works great with an external flash unit or a pop-up flash. Just use a note card to bounce the pop-up flash lighting towards the ceiling. Refer to a search engine for more ways to bounce light with a pop-up flash. 

Of course bounce lighting is not limited to portraiture. It's great for any indoor shoot where walls are plentiful or even outdoor shoots where reflectors are available. 

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