Using a simple bounce flash in a home or apartment

Many of us take a lot of photographs of their family inside their home or apartment. With regular flash, you have noticed a hard shadow just behind your subject. Using a simple bounce flash aimed at the ceiling can help to soften the shadows. You will have to find a Flash that has at least a hinge that allows you to aim the flash head up towards the ceiling. The idea is to spread light out over a broader area, and have reflect on your subject as a less concentrated light source. This will give a softer light, and will produce a more subdued shadow. It is best used when your subject is within a few feet from a wall as their background. Very typical of a home or apartment.

Bounce Flash Used. Note the softer shadow.

Now few samples to show the differences.

Note the Shadow on the right side of her hair. Straight Flash, no bounce flash
Note that there are NO shadows behind her, or offset. Bounce Flash was used.

I used a small flash that only had a bounce control, no swivel. (which is good when you hold the camera in “Portrait” orientation).  I aim the flash head at about a 70* angle up. NOT 90*. I also put the flash in full manual mode (it was not a TTL model). My camera (E-M5) was also on Manual, since I used a manual flash. (for the bounce flash photos)

With a TTL bounce flash, life is easier. But, TTL flash with can cost from $100 to $500 depending on the MAKE and MODEL..

A few more to wind this article up.

7 thoughts on “Using a simple bounce flash in a home or apartment”

  1. Image no 3 (from upwards) seems quite clearly to have been shot w 1:horizontal camera and 2: flash straight on, since there are highlights in her eyes, and a sharp, albeit thin, shadow under her chin.

    The image above that (no 2) has a shadow in front of her face because camera was leaned to the left. If it had ben leaned to the right instead the shadow would have been cast behind her face, which would have been at least a bit better (in lack of a swiwel flash head of course)

    Regarding image no 3, a bounced falsh would have got rid of the sharp, thin, shadow under her chin, and would also have given a softer more even light overall (as you also mention it would have, the idea of the whole article)
    I just can´t help doubting that that image was shot with upwards bounced flash…possibly with flash just slightly bouncing upwards, thus giving the eye-highlight and shadow under chin. Hard to say really…

    The description of the advantages of pointing the flash upwards to get soft even light is of course absolutely correct.

    IF one has to use a flash with bouncing but not swiweling head, then a vertical portrait should have been shot w camera leaned in opposite direction to how it was leaned in shot no 2. That, I thought, was the first thing one learned when starting to use flash.(?)

    I do not intend to be rude, sorry if it “sounds” that way, just wanted to have my say on the article and the statements in it. Some of which are good and correct.

    1. I have examples of “Straight on” flash on purpose to SHOW what can happen with the shadows. This is a teaching article, and as such must have examples of BOTH methods to show the differences. That is what you do when you “Teach”, so the readers can see the problems you may encounter with a flash used straight on. I am sure I made that clear in the full text of my article. Here is the text just before #2 (no bounce) and #3 (bounce used) “Now few samples to show the differences”
      Thank your for your critic, but, I think it is out place telling me how to
      correct “an example” of bad flash technique that was followed by a good flash technique. To SHOW the differences of each technique. This is not a showcase article for only correct technique. It is a showcase of bad and good technique with examples of both to show the reader that using “Bounce” flash can improve their indoor flash photography of their family photos. And, the bounce examples where all with flash at a 70* upward angle, so the chin would have a distinct shadow line. Which is explained under photo #3. I did mention having a swivel flash is better for a Portrait orientation also. Many people don’t buy the better featured flashes, this was not written for experienced photographers like you and me, but, for those who buy a flash with little knowledge on the what flash features they need. And wind up buying a bounce head w/o a swivel. (Read to save a few bucks)

      1. Sorry, I didn´t mean to be rude, or harsh.

        I saw later that you mentioned about “70 degrees bounce” regarding image 3.
        Ok, that may explain why it looked like “not bounced at all” to me. I understand that you aspired to give examples of a problem and i´ts solution. But thought that examples were a little bit less clear than necessary.

        To those who only have a bounce (not swiwel) flash, it would be a good idea to inform them about how to get a bit better shadow casting if shooting vertically, by letting shadow land behind a face instead of in front of it. A topic “beside” bounce, of course, but nevertheless it had its place when flash already was the topic…

        Pedagicicaly it may have beb good to first show an example then a “solution” both shot at the same postion, the article shows a vertical “bad sho” followedby a horizntal “correc” shot, in my view that didn´t make it super clear.

        Anyway, I will surely try to not go over the top again (if I did that in my reply to the article)
        Again, I am sorry, you have a nice page and I did fex like the “shoot like film” article very much! Thank you for that one, very well written and gave me a fair bit of nostalgia too! 😉

        Will, in due time take a look at the other articles, probably I will find more to like!

        Getting myself a OM-D in a few days, w 12-50 & 75/1.8 to begin with 😉


  2. It’s funny, the article was after an thought, so I didn’t have duplicate samples with each way to use a flash. I will have to do a more complete article using bounce flash, Next time with a flash that has a swivel plus bounce head. And show duplicate samples as you mentioned.

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