TIP OF THE WEEK
Here's a technique used by cheapskates and news photographers everywhere that's guaranteed to improve your flash pictures - the wonderful 3-cent bounce card. This method replaces the expensive, easy-to-lose flash accessories that accomplish the same effect.
All you need is a flash with a tilting head, a rubber band, and small white envelope. The envelope should be folded from one end to give a length of six to eight inches. Then fold the two corners on that end as shown so that this end of the card is roughly the width of the flash. This allows the rubber band to hold the envelope securely to the flash without bending it so it remains relatively flat. The flash head should be adjusted to around 75 degrees, usually one click down from vertical.
With the bounce card (envelope) attached in this way the light from the flash will be softened considerably. The coverage achieved with this reflector is equal to a 20mm lens or wider. If used indoors this setup has the extra benefit of allowing a considerable amount of light to travel upward past the card for a bounce flash effect - if the ceiling is low enough.
The two photos of our salesman, Barry, illustrate the rather dramatic effect this technique has on flash lighting. The effect is further enhanced if the flash can be held at arm's length with the use of a remote cord. Most flashes work fine in the automatic or TTL mode with this method. Please bear in mind that you lose two or three stops of light with this method so maximum flash distance is greatly decreased. The effect is most pleasing on subjects that are closer than ten feet anyway, and most flashes can handle this distance unless low-speed film and slow lenses are used.
I've never met a news photographer who didn't use this cheap but effective method of making flash lighting more palatable. You can afford to lose them all day long, just keep a good supply of stationery and rubber bands in your camera bag.
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