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One of the most time-honored, cheap, and easy to make light modifiers is to attach a 4×6 index card with a rubber band to the top of a speedlight that’s set in bounce position. This crude but effective method adds some bounce light along with some light that’s “kicked” toward the subject. If you want something more solidly built, sturdier bounce cards are available from Booth Photographic, LumiQuest, Sto-Fen, and others. Many modern speedlights even include a small kicker that’s built in but the problems is that they are, well, small.
One of the biggest variables in these thirds-party devices is size and shape. Large ones produce broader and softer results and remind me of the lighting produced by an old Vivitar 283 accessory that attached a Kodak Gray Card (the flip side is white) to the speedlight as a bounce accessory and produced deliciously soft lighting effects with on-camera flash. If you fondly remember that device and want to get the same kind of lovin’ feelin’ with your camera’s system flash you might want to take a look at Booth Photographics’ Mini/Max bounce cards.
The Mini/Max bounce cards come in two sizes (big and not-so-big) and my wife Mary and I tested both of them under a variety of real world conditions with Canon and Olympus SLRS and systems flashes are were impressed by their functionality and value. When folded flat the devices take up very little space in your camera bag making them ideal for on location portraits. In actual use, the exposure is either perfect the first time or you may need to make a test shot and one adjustment to the flash or camera’s exposure compensation control to get picture perfect results when balancing ambient light indoors.
As you can see in the portrait (above) of Kelsey, the larger Mini/Max FBC bounce card works wonderfully indoors when used in a horizontal position. The photo was made with Olympus E-3 and 40-150 Digital Zuiko lens with an exposure of 1/40 sec at f/4.5 and ISO 400. Tip: If you use the camera and flash vertically, be sure to move the subject away from the wall. Otherwise the larger kicker will produce big shadows. If you can’t move the subject, switch to the smaller card. Photo ©2011 Mary Farace
Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a trilogy from Amherst Media. It’s available on Amazon.com.
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