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Using Simple Tools


Useful Tool

Not all photography tools have to be expensive. Sometimes a simple piece of craft foam with some Velcro can be the most useful thing in your bag.

A number of people have asked me to elaborate on one of the pictures I posted to my 365 this year.  Its one of the most simple tools I keep in my camera bag and one of the most useful.

It’s just a bit of black foam that can be found at any craft store or art supplies place with some Velcro strips around the edges.  In general photography terms it’s a flag, or some object you use to block light.  Either from hitting your subject or from entering the camera directly.

This used to be a tool I’d only bring out from time to time when I had a specific problem to solve.  Thanks to a tip from Brian Mullins this tool has found its way onto my on camera flash when I’m forced to use it.

Lets start with a demonstration. First lets take a look at what we get when we do use on camera flash or a hot shoe flash pointed straight forward.

Direct Flash

Direct Flash

You can see that the exposure is acceptable and everything is lit. Problem is the light is very flat and not very flattering. Besides it looks like every other flash photo out there and who wants that. To fix it without using an off camera flash we can try a few things. Lets start by bouncing our light off of the wall to my left.

Bounce Flash

Bounce Flash

That’s a bit better.  Now the light has direction giving the face some shape and its a bit softer as well.  Overall much better, but it’s still a bit hot for my taste and you’ll notice if you look closely two catch lights.  The main one from the wall and a smaller one from the flash head.  This means there is still some direct light falling on the subject.  Lets try using our flag on the side of the flash closest to the subject.

Flagged Bounce Flash

Flagged Bounce Flash

Now all the light is coming from the wall we bounced our light off of and none of it is coming directly from the flash head.  The light is soft and doesn’t have any of the hot spots we were having problems with earlier.  The effect is subtle but makes for a better and more flattering shot in my opinion.

Categories: Photography Tags: , , ,
  1. 2011-01-06 at 03:41

    Please, post more often such things, they make for an interesting read and good learning.

  2. Barnett
    2011-01-06 at 08:26

    short and uncomplicated useful info thanks

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