Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Getting Soft, Diffused Light with Flash, Part 2

The other method of getting soft, diffused, and better yet, directional light using a flash (the key word here is directional, because it keeps your flash shots from looking flat) works if you’re using an external flash unit (and not the built-in flash on your camera, which is pretty limited, as you’ll soon see). The advantage of an external flash unit is that you can change the angle and direction of the flash. The reason this is cool is that instead of aiming your flash right into your subject’s face (which gives the most harsh, flat light you can imagine), you can bounce the light off one of two places: (1) the ceiling. If the room you’re shooting in has a white ceiling (and chances are the ceiling is white), then you can aim your flash head up at the ceiling at a 45° angle (as shown above, and provided that the ceiling isn’t more than 10 feet tall) and the ceiling will absorb the harsh light, and what will fall on your subject is much softer, smoother light and, best of all, it won’t cast hard shadows behind your subject. Instead, your soft shadows will cast on the ground (and out of your frame). Now, want to take this up another notch? Then instead of aiming at the ceiling, (2) have an assistant (a friend, relative, etc.) hold a reflector on your left or right side, slightly above shoulder height, then angle your flash head into that. So now, the reflector eats up the harsh light, but better yet, since the reflector is at an angle, it casts soft directional light on an angle, too. This puts soft shadows on one side of the bride’s (groom’s, bridesmaid’s, etc.) face, giving a more pleasing and less flat lighting effect (think of it as side lighting).

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account