Just Follow The Bouncing Light!

Prince Cheap here again!

Okay this is going to educate you on the “rubberband” property of light! You’ll be able to use lit like you’ve never used it before!

Take a look at these images and evaluate their lighting. How do you think they were lit?

Sample A

All Natural Light Outdoors. Homemade Hand held Reflector (Prince Cheap Special!) to bounce some light onto his eye and to add some smoothness to the light.

Sample B

All Natural Light in my tiny garage studio. 42″ eBay reflector on a reflector arm and light stand aimed high into in the doorway to the garage studio to bounce light from the 12 o’clock sun and into the corner of the studio to flood the room with directed light that gets dispersed and bounces everywhere! Theres also concrete thats bouncing light into the studio from the ground up providing an amazing lower area fill.

Sample C

Outdoor Afternoon Natural Light mixed with Flash. The Flash Bounced at half power into the building to the right of the image just out of frame. The wall functions as a tool I call (that will be explained at my upcoming Monster Lighting Tactics Workshop) a flashwall.

Sample D

All Natural Light in my tiny garage studio. Heres Butterfly Lighting on the cheap! Light is flooding into my tiny garage studio and being bounced into the underside of the subject because I have a 42″ Ebay reflector (white side) underneath the subject.

See a common theme here? All the images demonstrate the power of light being bounced to function as a main light source! The truth is, when you reflect light off of anything such as an umbrella, the interior of a softbox, a ceiling or anything you are harnessing the power of bouncing light! Think of light as a fast moving rubber ball of “silly putty”. (I wish I could find some of that stuff by the way!) The putty is rubbery and can be molded into the shape you want and when you press it on a comic strip of the newspaper it pulls off the color! (Thats right. Bounce a light off of a red surface and the light takes on a red tint! Hint. Hint. All you “gel-crazed-strobists” out there, I take my Sigma EF – 500 DG superflash and a 20×30 piece of construction paper taped to a 20×30 piece of foam core and bounce it off of it at high power and get red light!

Now the principal I am explaining is that light will always go somewhere until its completely absorbed. The only exception to this rule is that reflective surfaces like silvers, whites, metals and other shiny surfaces absorb less light. Meaning you can use this redirected light in some amazing ways! For example my newly setup 11wide by 16deep garage studio (which is no room at all!) gets bounced and direct light from one direction – the south (meaning 12 O’clock “Devil-Light”)! I use a reflector positioned high in the doorway (mostly outside to snatch the direct sunlight) and bounce it into the ceiling for a fill and main light effect! The coolest part is that I know that even concrete reflects light very well and I have lots of it just outside the doorway. I use this as an under fill (far less shadows under the chin, eyes and other problem areas!).

This is a very powerful technique that you should use when you can. It makes for some efficient use of your lighting. Now, the only thing to remember about bouncing light is that the farther its bounced the weaker it is when it hits the subject as well as the wider it spreads out before it hits the subject. Lastly, the “photo-techno-geeks” say there’s a law stating “The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection”. Jargon meaning? Whatever angle light strikes a surface is the same angle it will reflect off of a surface. Heres a diagram explaining it.

Light Reflection Diagram

The only “X” factor is that if you have a very bumpy or textured surface the light will be reflected at many different angles and will appear more diffused (spread out/soft) and less will strike your subject.

Heres how I’ve made use of the bouncing ball of light that hits my garage studio.

David Griffin Lighting Setup

Click here to see the notes for my studio.

There you have it. Now get out there and get to BOUNCIN!

Published by David Griffin

The Prince of Cheap I am a "Jesus Freak" and a DIY photography junkie! I'm also the *second* cheapest man alive... but only 'cause my Dad is the first!