Educating the barbarians

While in Florida for my sister’s baby shower I took it upon myself to play “staff photographer” for the event. Mind you, nobody asked me to do such, but what sort of amateur photographer would I be if I didn’t drag along my equipment and blind everyone with a firing flash?

I did take plenty of pictures (about 400) and I will eventually upload some to Flickr, but I took so many and I have an important project to undertake with them such that Flickr will have to find itself on the back burner. Sorry about that folks.

During the opening of the gifts portion of the party I had seated myself on the floor not ten or so feet from my sister so that I could take picture after picture of the lovely gifts she received from all in attendance. Being that this part of the party was indoors I had to resort to flash and was making best use of what little I know about flash work (on camera to be specific). During a brief lull in the gift opening one of the younger family members in attendance (an approximately 12 year old niece of my brother in law), who was seated right by me, asked why it was that I had my flash pointing at the ceiling and what was the little white thing poking out the top (the bounce card built in to my Canon 580 EX II).

I was rather intrigued that this twelve year old little girl was asking such a smart question and felt it deserved a real answer….as real as I could give that is. I said to her “Let me explain it by first taking a couple of pictures,” which I did in quick succession while making changes to the flash unit’s settings for each photograph. The pictures follows:

straight flash

straight flash



Using the camera’s LCD screen I showed her each photograph and asked her which she thought looked better, hoping she would select the right photograph such that my explanation would make more sense. Fortunately she did indeed select the second photograph and so I asked her why she liked it better. Being a clever young lady she suggested it was because the lighting looked better…”…more even….” being the main thrust of her commentary.

And she’s right. As such I took a minute to explain how bouncing the flash off a white surface (the ceiling above) spread out the light more evenly and thus more gently on the subject; my sister. I further explained that the pull-out white card on the flash directed a bit of the flash’s output directly towards my sister to help lift any shadows that may have been created by the flash’s main light being bounced from above onto my sister-the-subject (mostly for the area around the eyes and under the chin).

It was really a pleasure to spend a few moments explaining what I was doing and why I was doing it the way I was to someone. I’m certain other folks (and by “folks” I mean adults) must have wondered the same thing, but perhaps they were simply too afraid to ask the question for fear of feeling dumb, which is simply absurd. Had I not read about bouncing flash off walls to create a better effect I would have wondered why the crazy guy with the camera was pointing his flash at the ceiling instead of at the gift opening woman in the chair.

Or maybe they just didn’t care.


6 thoughts on “Educating the barbarians

  1. Your sister looks joyous! Did she sit in such simple uncluttered place by design or by accident? The clean lines around her really help make the photo delightful.

  2. I will be an uncle who they cannot rely upon to baby sit!

    The chair where my sister is sitting is one my mother bought for her from La-Z-Boy. It vibrates, heats up, etc. My sister was having major lower back problems and the chair helps. As to it’s location and such, that was all chance. We moved it into the corner so there would be more room for the guests around her. And there isn’t much clutter yet as she hadn’t been opening gifts too long.

  3. Poor sis! i mean, yeay for triplets (I think) but wow, lower back pain sucks.

    The pics are great. You did a great job with the flash. I still suck with flash photography. I’ve got to get a proper flash. That little built in thing makes pics a right mess!

  4. I like the idea of bouncing the flash off a white surface. I think the picture achieved soft skin tones to really give the skin a human feel. I have a built in flash which is pretty useless as you said, though I never heard of a flash card. Great Pictures!

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