IT’S amusing to know that a photographer arriving in the venue would look up and asses the ceiling. Is it white? How high is it? Can I bounce the light? The client might not notice it or know his reason why he’s looking up, but it is one important factor when shooting indoors.
When you talk about closed-door events, one of the major considerations is available light. It becomes worse for photographers when mood lighting is used in an event. This problem occurs because the lights were designed on how we see it thus it adds to the experience. However, what we can see is not the same as what the camera can see.
Cameras have a poor dynamic range. A perfectly positioned mood light would light the stage or the subject’s table and maintain enough light for the crowd or the guests to be seen. Since these lights are not enough to give you good exposure, you tend to use your flash to add more light to the scene.
Since the flash is directed only to the subject, the rest of the other part of the venue will all look dark. You’ll also get a very contrasty image with hard shadow lines. The solution is to bounce the light on the ceiling. That’s the reason why you see photographers pointing their flash upwards.
The rule of light is simple. The bigger the light source, the softer and more natural light it becomes. On the other hand, smaller light source gives you a hard contrasty and concentrated light. Your camera flash is a small light source, but when you fire it to the ceiling, it becomes a large light source, giving you an even and softer light.
One of the advantages of light source coming from the top is the familiar position of the light. We are used to looking at objects and people with light coming from the top since the light coming from the sun is mostly experienced coming from the top. That’s the reason why we find it weird and is often used for jokes when light is coming from underneath.
Imagine if you’re shooting in a church with ceiling as high as two storey or about seven meters – can you still bounce the light? A regular flash can reach up to 43 meters and a high-powered flash can go as high as 60 meters. So the answer is yes, it can reach it and bound back reaching your subject. Note that the higher the ceiling the wider the light source becomes and produces a natural glow of light.
Keep on shooting, everyone!
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