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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 27 Nov 2013 (Wednesday) 00:34
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Angle(s) of bounced flash question.

 
Intheswamp
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Nov 27, 2013 00:34 |  #1

Ok, let me show my ignorance here. :oops:

I've tried to write this several times but can't quiet seem to get my thoughts in words, maybe this time...

I'm trying to comprehend bounce flash. I've shot with bounced flash a couple of times now with my dslr and I'm sold on it...the results are very good. I'm trying to get an understanding of the "mechanics" of it.

When bouncing flash, the flash head can be angled anywhere from something like 45* forward to shooting backwards over the shooter's shoulder. This leads me to think that bounced light isn't really "bounced" but rather it's the illuminated patch of light on the ceiling/wall/etc that creates a "large light source" and thus creates soft lighting. The different angles of the flash head are simply to position the patch of light in different places in regards to the subject. For example, if shooting back over your shoulder wouldn't the angle of "bounce" send the light further behind the shooter rather than back towards the subject?...kinda like doing a bounce pass in basketball?

Man, I'm having a hard time explaining what I'm thinking!!!!<sigh> Basically, what I guess I'm asking is....is bouncing flash simply putting a large light source on the ceiling and the different angles of the flash head are simply for positioning the light source in regards to the subject? Does the light from the patch of light on the ceiling go out equally in all directions?

Now, was that clear as mud? Thanks for bearing with me!
Ed


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Nov 27, 2013 06:04 |  #2

Hi Ed, yes, your basketball example was a good one. The light bounces like a ball so if you direct it to the wall behind you it will light the sitters face from the front (assuming that they are facing you) and if you bounce it off a wall to your right (their left) it will light the left side of their face.

Depending on the size of the room the flash could also reverb off the other walls in the room giving you some more fill in. Likewise if you bounce it off the ceiling aiming at about half way between you and the sitter they will be lit with a frontal light from above the camera.

Bounced light produces a softer light with shadows that fade to black rather than the sharp shadows of either direct flash or off camera flash pointed at the subject.

Remember the colour (US = color) of the walls will effect the colour and tone of the light as well as the effectiveness of the flash.

Bounced flash is a great way to get a softer light assuming that the room is suitable.

In summary, whatever you bounce the light off becomes the light source for your subject.

Michael


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Nov 27, 2013 06:44 as a reply to  @ Lastblackdog's post |  #3

Bouncing off a wall behind you is more like a no look behind the back pass.


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DunnoWhen
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Nov 27, 2013 06:46 as a reply to  @ Lastblackdog's post |  #4

As the light leaves the flash head it begins to spread out.

When the light hits an object, some of the light will be obsorbed and some will be reflected.

The light will be reflected from the object at the same angle at which it hit the object. Ie if the light hits the object at an angle of 32degrees it will leave the object at an angle of 32 degrees.

All this light spreading out, hitting various objects and at a multitued of different angles means that the light becomes more diffuse.

(white) light is made up from many different wavelengths of light. When it hits an object, that object will/may absorb different wavelength and reflect others. It for this reason that bouncing light off coloured surfaces will result in the light having a colour cast based of the reflective object.


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Intheswamp
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Nov 27, 2013 07:24 |  #5

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Ok, maybe I was overthinking this. :confused: I had always thought of reflected light as just that...reflected. And that it would leave a surface that it struck at pretty much the angle that it arrived there at. The "back over the shoulder" shot I think is what got me.

hes gone wrote in post #16483383 (external link)
=he's gone;16483383]Bouncing off a wall behind you is more like a no look behind the back pass.

he's gone, This may be the key of my confusion. For some reason I had it in my mind (the little that I have left!) that shooting over the shoulder meant a backward pointing angled bounce towards the ceiling...not toward the wall behind the shooter. This makes much better sense to me now!

Thanks, again!
Ed


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Nov 27, 2013 07:41 |  #6

DunnoWhen wrote in post #16483388 (external link)
As the light leaves the flash head it begins to spread out.

When the light hits an object, some of the light will be obsorbed and some will be reflected.

The light will be reflected from the object at the same angle at which it hit the object. Ie if the light hits the object at an angle of 32degrees it will leave the object at an angle of 32 degrees.

All this light spreading out, hitting various objects and at a multitued of different angles means that the light become more diffuse.

(white) light is made up from many different wavelengths of light. When it hits an object, that object will/may absorb different wavelength and reflect others. It for this reason that bouncing light off coloured surfaces will result in the light having a colour cast based of the reflective object.

Just for clarification, the highlighted text above is true if the reflecting surface has a mirror-like finish. Most ceilings/walls do not have such surfaces. Instead, they have a surface that tends to diffuse most of the light in many different directions. Of course, there will also be direct reflections that bounce off the surface at the same angle as the incident angle but it will be a lot less than if a polished surface were used for the bounce. This is why the amount of light reaching the subject is considerable less than what you'd get if the flash were pointed directly at the subject even after taking the effective flash to subject distance into consideration.


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Nov 27, 2013 07:49 |  #7

Intheswamp wrote in post #16483427 (external link)
Thanks everyone for the feedback. Ok, maybe I was overthinking this. :confused: I had always thought of reflected light as just that...reflected. And that it would leave a surface that it struck at pretty much the angle that it arrived there at. The "back over the shoulder" shot I think is what got me.

Ed, if the walls and ceiling were made of mirrors, then you'd be very correct in thinking about reflection angles except for one thing. The light leaving the flash is essentially a cone of light, so the reflected light would also be a conical shaped beam that gets larger the further it is from the flash unit (the source).

As mentioned above, most walls and ceilings are not mirrors. They are generally painted with "flat" paint which diffuses the light reflecting off it. That means that light hitting an area of the surface is scattered in many directions as it is reflected.


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john5189
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Nov 27, 2013 08:13 |  #8

The way I visuallise bounced flash is:- Imagine where you would prefer a soft light to come from for ideal subject illumination and if there is a light surface there, then point your flash at this surface.

This surface, if it is not glossy or polished, will now act as a light source for the whole space- though the perpendicular axis will see the greatest illumination- due to largest visible illuminated surface area(of course distance from the surface is very important too). Moving away from this (perpendicular) axis will result in less lightfall in these directions.

There will only be a small contribution at the exact flash/ wall reflection angle if the wall is not glossy/ reflective.

You really never want to point at a mirror because that will reflect 100 percent at the reflective angle causing sharp shadows and cutoff edges from the mirror itself.

The effective flash power is massively reduced at subject, so usually best with higher ISO and wide f-stops


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Nov 27, 2013 08:34 |  #9

Intheswamp wrote in post #16483427 (external link)
he's gone, This may be the key of my confusion. For some reason I had it in my mind (the little that I have left!) that shooting over the shoulder meant a backward pointing angled bounce towards the ceiling...not toward the wall behind the shooter. This makes much better sense to me now!

Thanks, again!
Ed

backward toward a ceiling might not be the best idea unless there is a wall behind you too. I'm not saying it won't work, light will hit your subject for the reasons described above regarding the imperfect surface of the ceiling.

the benefit of using a wall behind you is that when the camera subject distance is short, light bounced straight up will have a hard time finding the areas under the eyes, nose and chin. This will give the subject "raccoon eyes". You can probably do a search of the forum for raccoon eyes and find some good talk about this.

with the light source behind the angle of reflection back toward the subject will fill in the eye sockets, etc

this shot was taken with the flash 45° up and maybe 30° to the left of directly back.

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Nov 27, 2013 08:59 |  #10

hes gone wrote in post #16483383 (external link)
=he's gone;16483383]Bouncing off a wall behind you is more like a no look behind the back pass.

Nice. :lol:


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Nov 27, 2013 09:03 |  #11

hes gone wrote in post #16483383 (external link)
=he's gone;16483383].. no look behind the back pass.

Sorry, someone is going to have to translate this one.

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Nov 27, 2013 10:15 |  #12

Think of your bounced light as coming from a large softbox. Now in your image, where would you want your soft box to be - just aim your speedlight at that spot where you think the softbox should be.

A couple of things to keep in mind: Now your light source is actually the surface that you are bouncing the light of of - so calculate your light distances from that point, specially if your background is critical (think inverse square law).


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Nov 27, 2013 10:24 |  #13

For the second part of your question (basketball example) you are right - "Most" of the light will go backwards in that direction, but since your ceiling is lightly textured, some light will scatter and spill forward - you will lose a lot of light in the process, depending on how far the ceiling and bounce spot is.

If you could place your light on a stand, behind yourself and bounce forward via the ceiling (reverse of above example) you will get essentially very similar look but with a lot more light on your subject and area behind them. Hope this helps.


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Nov 27, 2013 14:03 |  #14

Intheswamp - I'm glad you started this thread, lots of good discussion. For more on bounced flash, take a look here http://neilvn.com …echniques/bounc​ing-flash/ (external link) and the additional posts linked at the bottom of that one.


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Nov 27, 2013 16:06 as a reply to  @ stsva's post |  #15

I wonder how the zoom of the light (say 14mm VS 35mm) will affect the bouncing.




  
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Angle(s) of bounced flash question.
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