Variations On A Theme


Flash photography. I know the basics. I have an external flash unit and NEVER use on camera or direct flash. 


I like flash images to look naturally exposed, but even with ‘bounced’ flash it can lead to hard light hitting the subject, as shown in the first three images from this series (highlighted by the applied vignette).


Ive been reading quite a bit on Neil Van Niekerk’s site recently as he is a Flash Jedi Master, and although he states that he has transitioned to ambient light photography recently, given the amazing low light capabilities of current cameras, he was once a profound advocate of flash photography. 


So far I’ve taken the simple advice of bouncing flash upwards, off of the ceiling, which are most often white. But I read recently that angling the flash slightly behind gives for a softer look. I think he is right, as shown in the final three images here. The image above, of my nephew, was quite evenly exposed given the angle of the flash and ambient light coming from the window. 


Ive ordered the necessary components of the ‘black foamie thing’ and will report back when I’ve trialled it myself. _DSC6507

I’m sure it will work a treat.




2 comments on “Variations On A Theme

  1. akismet-47430a1854904080e9b0c9edba8b218d says:

    Hi there

    Just a slight correction:

    “… and although he states that he has transitioned to ambient light photography recently … ”

    Not quite. I’ve always used various light sources. All photographers start out using just the available light, and *then* expand their repertoire. And that was my progression as well.

    My intent with flash has always been to make it appear seamless with the available light, and this becomes easier with the high-ISO capabilities of the more recent cameras.

    Another counter-point – just raising the ISO doesn’t magically improve the quality of light.

    Other than that, thank you for the kind mention!

    Neil vN

    • Hi Neil,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I do apologise if I’ve misquoted or misrepresented you in any way, your work is amazing and I’m grateful for all the information you offer on your website and in your books. I’m in the process of transitioning from available light to more (better) use of flash, and look forward to trying out your ‘black foamie thing’ in the next few days.

      Warmest Regards

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