My general philosophy about flash is that (if you have one) the flash on your camera body is for emergency use only and that if you have a nice speedlight, the only place it should be is on a light stand where you make it fire remotely, “strobist” style. Using the flash on the camera usually produces unpleasant results that include “red eye”, harsh shadows, “ghost face”, and having the surrounding environment turn black because you have over-powered the existing or ambient light. However, there are times when you may be in a situation where you need to use the flash on camera. I almost always have a flash with me if I have my camera, but I don’t always have light stands, triggers, receivers, and modifiers with me.

Faced with that dilemna, how can you make the best of the situation? The answer is to “bounce” your flash and better yet to “flag” it so that you’re not blasting light directly onto your subject. Instead you’re shooting light behind you and letting the room act like a big diffuser, spreading the light all over which makes the light look much more natural.

In order to do this, you need to put something between your subject and the flash. One option that I like is what Neil Van Niekerk calls his “black foamie thing“. You can see my friend Martin in one of the images below with his DIY version of the black foamie thing. Martin, by the way, is the king of DIY! I’ve seen him make snoots out of straws and the things he does with duct tape… anyways, I digress.

I like to buy things, so my preference is to use the Rogue Flashbender. It folds up pretty small so I can always have it in my camera bag and you can bend it into a number of shapes to direct light where you want it. I simply put it on “backwards” with the black side facing the flash.

This is a great solution for photographing weddings or events where you can’t set up remote flashes on stands. Note how in the shot with Judy in front of the window, there’s no reflection from the flash. It’s also a lot less obnoxious than having your flash go off right in someone’s face!

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin