Bounced Flash Photography

Bounced flash photography is an excellent lighting strategy to fill your frame with soft light. Soft light has minimal shadows and the lighting appears to look very even, making your photographs look great.

What Makes Soft Light More Flattering Than Hard Light?

When we talk about hard light, we're referring to light that travels from the lamp to the subject unobstructed. The lights beam travels in a straight line and this results in harsh shadows and objects closer to the light being considerably brighter than objects farther away making parts of your frame appear overexposed. When dealing with hard light, you need to use flags to shape the light and make it look great. A lot of equipment, time and expertise are needed.

Soft light, or bounced light in this case, does not travel in a straight line. Since it is bouncing off a bounce board, the beams travel in multi directions, wrapping themselves around your subjects, creating evenly exposed images with soft shadows you can barely notice. It's fast to set up and looks great.

How Do You Make Bounced Flash Photography and What Tools Do You Need?

Bounced flash photography begins with a light that shines into a piece of bounce board. The light rays bounce off the bounce board, become diffused, and shines back onto your subject. To achieve this, you will need lights, bounce boards and stands. In place of stands, you can tape together two bounce cards at a 90 degree angle so they will support themselves.

The lights need to be strong in order to be noticeable after being diffused. Tiny lights won't cut it. In fact, you ideally want to have a few more lights with you then you think you'll need because you want the ability to add if need be. 

The industry standard for bounce board is bead board. It's a Styrofoam construction material used for insulation that also happens to be great at bouncing light. For stands, you want to have c-stands with duckbills or bead board holders to hold you bounce cards in place as you shoot.  

What to Keep in Mind

Because of its nature, bounced light looses a lot of the output from the lamps. You want to make sure you have powerful lights and that you bring more then you think you will need. This will insure that you have enough output to make your shots look great.

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