over the weekend i photographed a pretty cool event in downtown washington dc. as usual, the ambient lighting in the room was about as horrible as i could have hoped for… spotlight only video lights, huge tall ceilings that were really dark wood, and many shots were from a distance so 200mm was necessary. there were many notables in attendance… VP of AP, Secretary of the Dept. of Labor, Bill Curtis, and many others.

anyway. the point of this post is to demonstrate how incredibly useful bouncing your flash off of just about any wall or ceiling (including dark wood grain) can be… even in the very worst of situations. yes, high ISO capabilities of the d3s really allow for some amazing results in low light conditions, but i believe it’s always a good idea to know how take control of your lighting in any situation… especially for those times when you’re shooting in gigantic dark rooms. here are a few examples of ambient vs. bounce flash photos.

so, you can probably tell which are ambient and which are bounced. the bounced show an unreal amount of soft light, nice & smooth skin tones, and an overall better quality of light (IMO). the technicals of bouncing a flash are a bit more complicated than i care to get into on this post, but check out strobist.com for virtually everything you need to know about lighting.

oh, and here’s one last image i feel really demonstrates the power and look achievable with bounce flash in the absolute worst lighting conditions imaginable. keep in mind this is with the flash bounced off of an incredibly high dark woodgrain ceiling in a room with no real useable ambient light, and zoomed to 200mm f/2.8. the legendary Helen Thomas: