The photo shows my old Pentax digital camera. The photo was lit by bounce flash and has a pleasing, natural look. It is not cropped or edited in any way. (I did reduce the file size for uploading.) Many people use point-and-shoot cameras like this. The flash is fixed and cannot be pointed upward. This Instructable will show how to make and use a simple bounce flash reflector for cameras like this.
All photos in this Instructable were made with bounce flash, except for the second photo in this introduction. It was made with direct flash to illustrate the difference between a bounce flash photo and a direct flash photo.
- Sheet aluminum from an old automobile license plate
- 1/4 inch x 20 thd. screw
- White paper
- Marking pen
- Tin snips
Step 1: Make Paper Pattern
Step 2: Cut the Pattern
Step 3: Transfer the Pattern and Cut the Aluminum
Step 4: Bend, Fit, and Drill
Tripod mounting screws are 1/4 inch and 20 threads per inch. The ideal would be to have a mount screw precisely the correct length. An easy alternative can be seen in the photo. I used a longer 1/4 x 20 screw and threaded a wing nut onto it. I screw this longer screw into the tripod mount socket until it bottoms out. Then I snug the wing nut up to the camera bottom.
Step 5: Results
Step 6: The Set-up
The photo shows a corner area in our house with white walls and a white ceiling of normal height from the floor. The white surfaces surrounding me as I take a photo function a lot like a light tent. The light from the flash is soft and comes from multiple directions.
There is an optimal distance for using bounce flash. If you are too close, shadows on the front and lower parts of the subject will be heavier. This can be a real problem with human faces and heavy shadows in the eye sockets. If you are too far away, the photo will be dark and will need to be lightened considerably in editing software to look good. Also, you can see a band of bright light across the top of the photo in this step. Some light spilled over the top of the bounce flash accessory. I need to enlarge the size of the actual reflector portion of my accessory. I will fit a larger piece of aluminum over it.
I find bounce flash works best if I use the display screen on the back of the camera rather than the viewfinder to compose the photo. If I use the viewfinder, some of the light that should have reached the ceiling will be absorbed or redirected by my forehead and hair. Light from bounce flash does tend to come from above. The lighted detail you want on the front of an object can be improved by pointing the camera slightly downward and making the photo slightly from above. But, that may also alter the way the light is distributed in the photo. Make extra exposures.
Step 7: For a Flip-up Flash
Bounce flash works very well with small objects, especially with a few precautions and the simple accessory for your camera shown in this Instructable. Bounce flash gives results that look very much like natural room light, but without the risk of camera shake from long hand-held exposures.