From Anne’s intern Alexis
I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my speedlight. I’ll use it if I have to, but most of the time I’ll go to extreme lengths to avoid pulling it out of my camera bag. Probably 90% of the time it makes a better paperweight than it does a piece of camera equipment.
Anne showed me a nifty trick last week that will tip the scales more toward the “love” part of the equation. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll post a few by way of demonstration. You definitely have to see it to appreciate it (that, plus the fact that I don’t really feel like writing a 3,000 word blog entry. I’m sure you appreciate THAT, too.
Just to preface this, I was shooting at f/4.5 at 1/50s (manual mode). My speedlight was set to E-TTL, with no light modifiers on it.
Exhibit A: Neo (yes, named after the Matrix) relaxing on an unseasonably warm spring evening. The flash is on-camera, pointed straight at him. The verdict? EW. Ew ew ew. Nasty shadows, cold, harsh light…just…ick. We can do better.
Exhibit B: Neo, looking much healthier than before. The flash is still on camera, but is now pointed straight up at the (white) ceiling. Ah, my optic nerves can relax a little bit. This is MUCH better than what we had before. The shadows have softened, and the light is much warmer and more flattering. Well…as flattering as it can be to a stuffed dog. I’m not such a fan of the shadow under his chin, though…that wouldn’t look good on a person either. You can imagine that you would get the same kind of shadows under a person’s eyes, since the ceiling has essentially become your light source. I think most people are tired enough as it is without us accentuating that lovely raccoon-eye look.
Exhibit C: Success! Here’s where Anne’s trick comes in: the flash is still on-camera, and I’m still bouncing the light, but I’ve pointed it behind me and over my shoulder. There is a white wall about 7 feet behind me, and now that is pretty much acting as a giant softbox. Look at that light! Soft, even, no harsh shadows…extremely flattering. If anything, this might be a little TOO even, but that is much easier to correct in post processing than super contrasty light and terrible under-eye shadows.
So, there you have it! And remember: fear not the flash, grasshopper. At least, that’s what Anne tells me.