Are flash modifiers recommended?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by im1dermike, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    This is no one, single best tool for bounce flash, because the desired end-result of lighting varies so much. Shooting bounce flash in a 25-foot-high church interior is one thing; shooting bounce flash aboard a yacht or cruise ship with an 8-foot high ceiling in a tiny room is another issue. In the church, you'd likely elevate the ISO to 500,640,or 800 or even higher, and zoom the flash head to 135mm beam spread and try to get a good, solid bounce by throwing up a precisely-directed, narrow beam. This was at one time called "foofing", by famous wedding pro Denis Reggie, and became popularized back when the Canon 5D series offered good ISO 1600 to 3200 results for many people who had what was then, cutting-edge ISO performance and image quality. Loooooong-throws, like 30,40,50,60 feet throws to the bounce area, and using wide apertures, like f/2 or f/2.5 or f/3.2 on a prime lens, and high ISO levels...that is one,specific type of bounce flash: High ISO, wide f/stop,long-throw bouncing at distances wayyyyyy longer than you can do at ISO 200.

    Aboard a ship or in an apartment living room or in a hotel bathroom, you have the polar opposite situation: the bounced light has very rapid fall-off, due to the very short distances. The rate the light falls off is terribly rapid on a short-distance bounced lighting set-up...within a foot, you can have a 1.5 or even 2-stop fall-off, and the top of the picture area can be very hot, and over-lit....this is the type of situation where say, wedding shooters often find themselves with the bridal party and the groomsmen...in a small, cramped area, where they want to use bounced flash, and where the Fong diffuser or other omni-directional diffuser makes on-camera, simple flash pictures so much more evenly-lighted. Typically in a very cramped location, you would want to use a wiiiiiiide beam spread of light on the bounce, not a narrow one!

    There are a number of different flash picture looks too. Direct-flash on bracket; flash + 5-inch parabolic reflector+ diffuser; Sto-Fen tilted up 45 degrees at close ranges under 12 feet; there's so many ways top shoot flash, that there can not possibly be any type of universally appropriate flash accessory. There's also a difference between "pumping up the ambient" by firing a shrouded [flagged off] flash (Neil's technique and BFT approach), and between firing a flash that directly hits the subject. There is NOT one, single thing that is a panacea.

    Like Big Mike wrote, above: "So the key with any flash accessory, is to first understand light. Understand how flash works and how you can balance it with ambient light etc. With that knowledge, it should be fairly easy to know when to use which accessories, and just as importantly, when not to use them.

    Of course, as with everything, it's always a compromise. A smart photographer chooses their gear to balance convenience and functionality, and does what they can within the limitations of those choices."



     
  2. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    it's a different technique: he's using a wall or ceiling to make the light VERY large. This is called bounce flash, but he's also then using the flag to block any direct light from the flash to expose the subject, ensuing only the light from the bounced surface is used.
     
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  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't recommend any modifier being attached to your flash all the time. It will get in the way when you want to use your flash in bounce mode. As I wrote earlier, anything you put over the light will decrease the amount of light that hits your bounce surface.

    The only thing I would mount to my flash head and leave it there would be a strip of (hook-side) "hook-'n-loop" fastener that you can then use to attach some type of modifier at any time, providing you had also attached a strip of the "loop" side of the H&L fastener on it.

    That way, you can quickly and easily stick some modifier on your flash head whenever the situation calls for it.

    With all this modifier/bounce talk in this thread, I wonder if you have the correct concept of bounce flash firmly in your knowledge base?

    As to the modifiers you specifically mentioned; my advice is to use whichever one does the job, and is cost effective. I've made modifiers out of various materials that were never marketed for that use, but which seem to work better than something that costs real money.

    Show me what you mean when you write "bounce flash".
     
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The Flash Bender is what I would call a reflector, and as such is indeed "bounce flash", but the size of it is nothing compared to a ceiling or wall. (the ceiling or wall is much larger)

    The flag is useful when the head is very nearly pointed at your subject, but you don't want any direct flash.
     
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  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  6. im1dermike

    im1dermike TPF Noob!

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    I'll continue to read about bounce flash and modifiers, but thanks again for all the input.

    For posterity, here is a Neil V video comparing modifiers which I missed previously.
     
  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    None of which are "bounce flash".
     
  8. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    quote:
    - My goal with this thread was to see if there was a single piece of equipment I could always have mounted to my bounce flash that would positively improve it. Is this not realistic, that there isn't a single bounce flash modifier panacea?
    - Are both of the tools I mentioned above great when the given situation dictates?
    end quote

    You seem to be getting the terms mixed up.

    A shoe flash is NOT a bounce flash.
    But a shoe flash can be used as a light source for bounce flash.
    A shoe flash can also be used for direct flash.​

    Bounce flash is bouncing the light from the flash off an object, like a wall, or ceiling.
    You can use ANY flash to bounce the light, some are just easier to use than others.
    You can aim the flash at the surface to bounce the light, or you can use a bowl diffuser to send the light all over and bounce off any surface.
    Many people call the attached panels reflectors. Bounce usually refers to a LARGE fixed surface such as wall or ceiling.
    Reflectors are portable panels that reflect the light back at the subject.
    Yes, a wall and a reflector functionally do the same thing. So it can get confusing.​

    Direct flash is the flash pointing directly at the subject, and usually bare of diffussers.​

    There is no "magic bullet" that will solve all your problems.
    As has been said, what works in one situation will not work or not work as well in another.
    Each modifier is simply a different tool in the toolbox.
    It is up to you, as the photographer, to select the appropriate tool/modifier for the task.

    As you said "when the given situation dictates," is saying that the modifier is appropriate for the specific shooting situation.

    Example1 - When you are CLOSE, the mini-soft box is OK.
    But it is almost useless when you are shooting from over 15 feet away. At 15 feet, it is a small light source, relative to the subject. You might as well remove it and shoot bare.

    Example2 - The mini diffuser/softbox strapped to the flash is maybe 3x5 INCHES, and used for diffused direct flash.
    When I bounce on the wall behind me it is 8x10 FEET. This is a MUCH larger light source than the mini softbox. But obviously, I don't always have a nice wall behind me at the correct angle.

    Example3 - I do NOT bounce at a restaurant with a RED ceiling. Cuz I don't want everything to have a red tint/cast from reflecting off the red ceiling. I would use direct flash, or the mini-softbox.​

    Do not leave an unused modifier on the flash. That is just extra bulk and weight, and it may affect the light when you do not want the light modified. And it is just something that you have to remove when you want to use a different modifier.
     
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  9. im1dermike

    im1dermike TPF Noob!

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    @ac12 Thanks for clarifying semantics. I was referring to a Speedlight-esque shoe flash as a bounce flash which is in fact a technique rather than piece of equipment.
     
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  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Actually, it is about a piece of equipment. Some flashes do not tilt and swivel, but stay pointed directly toward the subject. Those don't work particularly well for bouncing.

    A flash that tilts and swivels is one that can be bounced off a nearby surface, such as a ceiling or wall. Hence the term; "bounce".

    So you can either remove the flash from the hotshoe and fire it by some means other than the hotshoe, OR you can leave it mounted in the hotshoe and swivel the head around to whatever seems like the best place from which to bounce the light.

    Man! I sure hope this helps.
     

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