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Tips & Tricks

Some Basic Techniques in the Art of Bouncing Light

By Hanssie on October 24th 2014

One of the quickest and easiest ways to change a look in a scene is manipulating the light. A turn of the light source, some diffusion or a few gels can dramatically alter the feel of your image. Therefore, how to use light to your advantage is one of the most important things a photographer/filmmaker should know.

As a new photographer, we usually are very limited in gear. I only owned one flash for the first year I was learning about wedding photography and second shooting. In that year, I learned how to use that flash for most of my lighting needs, and one of those ways was to learn to bounce it.


Though I now own multiple flashes, I still get excited to walk into a wedding venue and see low white ceilings or walls, because bouncing light off of them is a quick and simple method to light the area, have it look pretty natural and not have to worry about setting up a bunch of light stands and extra flashes.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 4.22.07 PM

In the following video from, Anthony Q. Artis shows us some basic techniques on working with bounced light. Artis shows various ways to change the light to make subtle changes that can make a big difference. He shows us three methods in the video – first, he bounces the light directly off the wall. In the next technique he shows how to bounce the light off a reflector/light card and finally, he bounces the light off the ceiling.

Artis is coming at this from a filmmaker standpoint, but the same techniques can apply to photography. This ~9:00 minute video is worth a watch if you are a new photographer or filmmaker, perhaps with only one light to work with. There’s much you can do with that only light and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do so. Just need a white wall, ceiling or card.

[Via No Film School/ Youtube]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Nice video.

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  2. Basit Zargar

    nicely described

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  3. Tyler Friesen

    Great video with great examples

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  4. Stan Rogers

    … and a black foamie thing (tip o’ the hat to Neil van Niekerk for the name). A small flag of some sort (in Neil’s case, a small piece of black craft foam attached using a couple of hair elastics) on a flash will play the part of the barndoors on the lights in this video — it will let you place the splash of light effectively where you want it while hiding the flash itself from the subject(s) (or their surroundings). It’s a couple of bucks at most, and worth a million.

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