This is the one simple thing you need to know about working with bounce flash
Sometimes, as much as we might hate it, we’re forced to stick a flash on the hotshoe. Perhaps it’s something not too important and we just want a bit more light on things. But maybe it’s something very important and you really need to not screw it up. Whatever the reason, getting great light out of an on-camera flash isn’t that difficult. There’s just one thing you need to think about.
In this video, photographer Neil van Niekerk explains that one important thing and how it affects your photos in very simple and easy to understand terms. Yes, I’m going to spoil it now, but that one thing is the inverse square law. But don’t worry, there’s no maths or charts here. Just a simple practical demonstration that’ll make it easy for you to get decent shots when using on-camera flash.
The way Neil describes it makes the ISL sound pretty simple. And well, that’s because it is when it comes to its practical everyday use for this purpose. Essentially, the technique Neil talks about and demonstrates in the video takes advantage of the light source being a good distance from your subject. And, no, we’re not talking about photographing your subjects from half a mile away with a 300mm lens. It’s all about how and where you bounce the light being emitted from your camera.
It’s well worth a watch if on-camera flash (or the ISL) confuses you. And even if you’re a bit of a lighting aficionado when it comes to off-camera flash, you might still pick up a tip or two in this one that you can apply to your work, too. I know I’ve used this technique a bunch of times in the past with off-camera lights to be able to get a big soft wall of light with a low fall-off blasting out in front of me.
Do you bounce when you’re stuck with on-camera flash?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.