External flash is normally used in order
to compensate on low light environment. For a good flash photography,
we try to make the flash light appear as close to natural light as
possible in the photo.
However flash light travels directly and the subject to be photographed
is usually not too far away. This resulted the flash light appeared to
be sharp and hard and not as soft as natural lights. The outcome of the
photo will usually be stiffer as most of the flash light will falls on
the surface of the subject (human face if it is portrait photography).
In such situation, there will be a need of attaching a diffuser to the
external flash. Diffuser diffuse the light or redirect the scatter of
light to different direction and this makes the light appear in the
photo to be softer.
As mentioned previously, the flash light travel directly from the
external flash to the surface of the subject in photo. With addition of
diffuser, the light will be scatter a bit and the photo will look
softer. However, it still looks very different than natural lights.
Nature light usually comes from top (sky), instead of horizontal
direction. In order to make the light looks like coming from the top,
we need to use “bounce lighting”
This is only applicable for indoor photography as we need to use the
ceiling to bounce back the light from the external flash. In other
words, we change the angle of the external flash, aiming it with
certain angles to the ceiling instead of the object to be photographed.
The flash light will hit on the surface of the ceiling and bounce back
to the subject to be photographed. This way, the photo will look soft
and also natural as the light appear to be come from top.
With the understanding of how light “bounces”, we can play around with
different techniques of photography. We can adjust the angle of the
external flash accordingly and have the light bounce from different
angles to achieve different types of creative photos. Of course, the
criteria is we need something to reflect the light back and that have
to be something that is light in color in order to reflect the light
nicely and the distance between the “ceiling” and the subject cannot be
Other than bouncing the light, we can also try flash photography by
moving the flash away from the camera. Some camera and external flash
can function without attached together. It is either wired or wireless,
we can remove the external flash from the camera system and placed it
at any other location or angle that we want the light source to be. The
flexibility and creativity of flash photography will be in another
level as we can control the source of the light at different direction
and angle. Although, the disadvantages are more setting is needed. We
will need someone to help holding the flash at different angle or
something such as tripod to hold the flash.