Lighting can be difficult to control sometimes and we use everything at our disposal like ceilings, film canisters, or spaghetti strainers to bend the light to our will. Sometimes we see a gadget in use and have to have it, like that Gary Fong diffuser that I bought and used once. In this video, photographer Neil van Niekerk has a quick and inexpensive trick to help modify your light.


[REWIND:An Illustrative Guide To Popular Light Modifiers (Video)]

Speedlights can be a blessing for some and others avoid them like the plague. If used improperly, they can cause unsightly shadows on your subject. Bouncing the light off the ceiling or the wall may help some, but may not be enough. Niekerk uses a piece of crafting foam to flag his speedlight, blocking any harsh extraneous light.


Flagging a flash can eliminate any direct light that will create harsh, ugly shadows. The “black foamie thing” as he calls it can be an easy and effective way of improving on-camera flash without the need of an expensive modifier that might just end up sitting in your closet. You can see in the comparison between using a flag with your flash and just using bounced light.


Bounce Flash Photography – The Black Foamie Thing

The video does run a bit long and the real information begins about a minute in. One bonus tip to pull from Niekerk is his posing technique; he has the model mirror his actions to prevent awkward instructions. This inexpensive trick is good if you are a run and gun documentary photographer or small wedding photographer. If it doesn’t work, you can use the foam to make bokeh gobos.

(Via Neil van Niekerk / Images screen captures)