A Simple Photo Lighting Technique with On Camera Flash

Happy Thursday!

Yesterday I received a couple of the new Sony HVL-F60RM radio controlled flash units. Are you, by chance, using speed lights in your work?

One of the things that I am anxious to test is how well it handles prolonged bounce flash. It’s a technique I call "over my shoulder bounce."

This is the way I typically shoot a lot of my work — weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs, corporate events, etc. It's simple, fast and gives me a great quality of light.

I'm using TTL (though manually selecting my shutter, aperture and ISO) since TTL has gotten quite good).  Plus this Sony flash has a very unique way of articulating -- almost a windshield wiper effect.

The Sony HVL-F60RM in the hotshoe of a Sony a7RIII with 12-24mm f4G OSS lens on a Sirui tripod and ballhead.

The Sony HVL-F60RM in the hotshoe of a Sony a7RIII with 12-24mm f4G OSS lens on a Sirui tripod and ballhead.



The way this technique works is that the flash turns around, the light whisks past my receding hairline and then — once it hits a white or light wall — it creates a BEAUTIFUL and amazing wall of soft light.  

It’s like taking a small, and very harsh ball of light and turning it into a 4-8 foot soft source of light (depends on how far you are from the wall — that affects the overall size of the new reflected light source). 

>>>(Warning: this technique does NOT work especially well with dark walls and ceilings — but don’t be afraid to try — I’ve even bounced off the leaves on trees while outside! Also, I use AWB with RAW + jpeg so that the camera adjusts for any slight color change because of the bounce. I find in most light ceilings/walls/color temperature runs around 4200-4500 degrees Kelvin)<<<

One huge advantage in using that technique these days is that high ISO is so good compared to what it was 5-10 years ago. With my first full frame camera — the Canon 5d (which was a great tool) — I was only comfortable shooting at 1600 ISO in color and 3200 in black and white.

Now with my Sony a9 or the a7RIII, I don’t even break a sweat shooting at 6400 or even 12800 ISO! And, if I was in a pinch, I’d push to 25600 and just turn it to black and white !!!!

Seriously though, shooting high ISOs and bearing a heavy penalty for that is a true thing of the past.

My typical starting point when working this technique is f2.8 or f3.5 (or f2, if necessary), a shutter speed of 1/125th (or higher if I need to stop action — and I will go down to 1/50th or 1/60th if I am photographing static or slowly moving things, details, etc.). 

Since I’m using a flash unit with a dedicated Sony MIS hotshoe, the camera detects that and instantly turns Setting Effects OFF (this is a digital equivalent of an optical viewfinder so the light in the scene stays even. If you use a flash withOUT the MIS foot and you keep setting effects ON, then the viewfinder can get very dark and hard to focus in very low (reception type) of lighting. You won’t have to worry about that if you get a flash like this, or a third party flash that is dedicated to Sony)

I don’t use HSS with flash in this mode — HSS wouldn’t even kick in at my usual shutter speeds and if it did, there would be a penalty on flash power in doing so. HSS is most useful to me in working outdoors when I want to use a large aperture in typically a single person portrait.

I hope you found this technique helpful. 


Do you have any special on camera flash techniques that you use?  Please be sure to share them in the Paul Gero Education Private Facebook group!


Have a great day and I hope you get to go out and make some great images!!