Simple Setup, Dazzling Results

A simple two-light setup with excellent results
A simple two-light setup with excellent results

At a basketball game tonight, one of the player’s parents joined me courtside to ask a couple of pieces of photographic advice, then stayed for nearly two quarters for what ended up being quite a cordial chat.

One of the things she asked me was, “What would be the advantage of getting an additional flash for my camera?”

I told her that while it would provide a lot more power (producing more light), the biggest advantage would be that she could start using bounce flash. I told her about the recent session I had with Abby, when she came home looking so beautiful and I photographed her. The setup was incredibly simple, involving a white blanket, a desk lamp, and, of course, bounce flash.

For those who have never bounced flash before, it is this: instead of pointing the light from the flash unit directly at your subject, you point it at an object and let the light “bounce” off that object onto the subject. Typically, this object could be a white wall or ceiling, a reflector, or some other surface that causes the light to spread out, thus illuminating the subject with a much softer appearance.

For the session with Abby, I hung an off-white blanket from the coat closet over a nearby lamp, to my right. I then simply pointed the head of my flash unit at the blanket, bouncing it toward her. As you can see, the light is soft and flattering, and in some ways resembles window light. For the amber highlight in her hair, I turned on a halogen desk lamp and set it behind her.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that, yet the results don’t get much better.

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