Monthly Archives: December 2010

Perfect color bouncing flash indoors

Photography is, simply, capturing light.  Really good photographers understand how to capture light in difficult lighting situations.  Taking photos of a bright landscape is pretty simple because your camera does most of the work. Sunrises and sunsets take some exposure compensation. Indoor photography is even more challenging.

The best indoor photographs are taken in a studio with expensive studio lights.  Studio lights do three things: They move the light source away from the camera to provide depth, they diffuse (or spread out) the light to reduce harsh shadows, and they provide consistent light for color accuracy. Built-in flashes will lighten up the subject, but the image typically has less depth and harsh shadows.

This is why most hot shoe-mount flashes have swivel and tilt.  This makes it possible to bounce the flash off of a surface to get somewhat of a studio light feel in photographs. It diffuses the light across that surface, and it moves the light source away from the camera, which provides depth.

Bouncing poses a challenge.  Simply put, you are changing color temperature of the light source.  Photos bounced off a white or off-white surface will probably be “warm,” or have an orange tint.  The solution is to change your white balance settings.

ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6, +2/3 flash, Sun WBThis photo was taken with the flash bounced off of a white ceiling (flash head was pointing strait up), with the following settings:

ISO: 400
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: f/5.6
Flash exposure compensation: +2/3
White Balance: Sun

I have not touched up this photo.  It has depth, soft shadows, and the color quality is fantastic.

If you don’t have a hot shoe mount flash and would like better results indoors, try stepping back a few feet from the subject and zooming in a bit to compensate.