I have had my Canon speedlite for several years now, but have only used it sparingly as I tend to find the results too harsh when using the flash, even with a Stofen diffuser. This is more a reflection of my lack of knowledge on how to use the flash than anything else.
So when I heard another photographer saying that he always lit his models through bounce flash (when not being able to use studio lights) to create more natural lighting, I thought it is time to found out a bit more and experiment. After a bit of Googling and reading I came across the excellent web site by Neil van Niekerk, who provides a wealth of information on techniques for using on-camera and off-camera flash. A must read for anyone wanting to delve beyond the most basic use of flash.
What specifically caught my eye was the simplicity of it all, and Neil’s ingenuity to use ‘the black foamie thing’ for bounce flash. So the following day I went into town to hunt down some black foam. It wasn’t easy, but I was in luck, as the second art store I went in had Funky Foam in the kids section for £1.79 for an A4 sheet. With a couple of elastic hairbands, I had just bought my cheapest photographic accessory ever.
Time to experiment! I had a choice of two models at home, but found only Lola willing. I tried bounce flash off the wall to the sides, of the wall behind me and off the ceiling, and I must admit, it works an absolute treat.
Here are a few portraits of the super model, both in colour and black & white, hopefully showing that the bounce flash results in a more natural lighting and in giving nice shadow and detail, as opposed to bleaching everything out.