Flash photography made easy: simple ways to diffuse light for flattering portraits
In this section we explore some of the ways to diffuse light from your flashgun to make it less harsh and more flattering for skin tones.
While flash photography offers wonderful opportunities for the creative photographer, it can also present some challenges.
Untamed, it can be harsh, cold and unflattering, especially if you’re shooting portraits inside with one camera-mounted flashgun, as we did here.
However, with some very simple techniques it’s easy enough to control the light – either by bouncing it off a nearby wall or a ceiling, or by making use of a diffuser.
When the light from a flash is concentrated from a small area, it can create harsh shadows. This is especially true if you’re shooting vertically with your flash attached to the camera – effectively on the side – which will cause horrible side shadows, as seen in our first sample (below left).
There are plenty of handy gadgets available that can help you soften and diffuse the light, such as STO-FEN Bounce products and mini softboxes. However, here we’re going to show you how to diffuse the light simply by bouncing it off a wall or ceiling.
You can buy a bunch of great diffusers, mini softboxes and Sto-fens in all shapes and sizes. Some are expensive, but they needn’t cost the earth.
If you anticipate shooting a lot of portraits, adding a couple of flash accessories to your kit bag would be a worthy investment.
PAGE 1: Find your way around a flashgun
PAGE 2: Master fill-in flash
PAGE 3: How to use rear curtain flash for cool motion effects
PAGE 4: What is diffused light?
PAGE 5 How to buy or make a diffuser
PAGE 6: See the effects of diffused light
PAGE 7: What is off-camera flash?
PAGE 8: How to position your off-camera flash
PAGE 9: Off-camera flash photography cheat sheet
PAGE 10: How to use multiple flashguns creatively
PAGE 11: Using radio triggers in your flash photography