The first time I heard the term “bounce light” I thought, “What kind of bounce are we talking about here? A dance? A basketball?”

But then I took a photography class, and my oh-so-innocent mind was illuminated.

That’s when things became clear: bounce light is just light that bounces off another surface before hitting your subject.

And it can be a pretty handy tool to have in your photography arsenal.

Tutorials on bounce lighting tend to start with photos of people because they’re such easy subjects to photograph.

Let’s take a look!

bounce light photography

What Is bounce light photography?

Bounce light photography is a relatively new concept in the world of digital photography. In essence, it’s taking advantage of natural light and bouncing it around to illuminate a subject.

This can be used for both product photography and portrait photography. It’s often used in situations where there isn’t enough natural light to make a picture, but using artificial lighting would be too harsh.

A good example would be a wedding when you’re shooting indoors or at night with no flash allowed, but you need good lighting on your subjects.

This can be done with a simple piece of white card stock or even with the inside of a reflector, depending on the situation.

There are two major benefits to using bounce light in photography. First, it can help to create a softer lighting effect on your image, especially when compared to using your flash directly at the subject.

Second, it can also help you avoid red eye, as you’re not aiming your flash directly into your subjects’ eyes.



What Is Bounce Light In Photography?

Bounce light is a photography technique that uses reflected light to illuminate a subject. The goal of bounce lighting is to provide a softer and more even light quality.

In general, there are two types of light sources: hard light and soft light.

Hard lighting is when the light source is relatively small compared to the subject. Think about the sun on a cloudless day; it’s a very hard light source. The result is that you get very harsh shadows along with high contrast areas in your photo.

With hard lighting, you can create some beautiful photos, but the downside is that it can lead to some unflattering shadows, especially on people’s faces.

On the other hand, soft lighting occurs when the light source is relatively large compared to your subject. This type of lighting results in softer shadows and less contrast in your photo.


Here are some of the benefits of bounce light photography:

Artificial Lights Are Harsh And Unnatural Looking

By using natural light that has been bounced, you can create a much more realistic look in your pictures.

Bouncing light is also very easy to do if you plan ahead, so you don’t have to worry about having enough light.

Bounced Light Is Soft And Diffused

It will wrap around your subject, creating smooth, even lighting with no harsh shadows or highlights. It gives a very professional look to your pictures without having to use expensive equipment.

Bounced Light Is Free (With Limitations)

If you have windows in your house or business, then all you need to do is capture the natural light coming from outside

What Can Be Used To Create Bounce Lighting In Photography?

What can be used to create bounce lighting in photography? 

The answer is quite simple. You can use just about anything that will reflect the light.

The key is to understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and then select the proper material or object that will allow you to accomplish the task. By changing the way the light reflects off of your subject, you can dramatically alter its appearance.

This is particularly important when shooting outdoor portraits. 

For example, if you are shooting a portrait outdoors in a shaded area and want to keep your background dark, you can take advantage of natural objects like trees or foliage.

You can bounce light off of these objects and onto the background behind your subject. You can also use a reflector if there aren’t any trees or other objects available.

Just make sure that whatever you are bouncing the light off of is white. If it isn’t, then you’ll end up with a reflection on your image that is tinted with the color of whatever you are reflecting the light off of.

In order to get different effects from your bounce lighting, try experimenting with different angles and with different objects to reflect the light.

Bounce Board Lighting

Bounce board lighting is a technique for brightening up the shadows on your subject. It works especially well when you’re shooting outdoors with a flash and you want to avoid the harsh shadows it creates.

It’s also helpful in situations like this portrait, where the main light creates harsh shadows on the subject’s face. The easiest way to set up bounce board lighting is to have an assistant hold a large, white card just outside of your camera’s view to the side of your subject.

You can use anything as a bounce board, from a sheet of foam core to a large piece of paper or even a white wall. It just needs to be bright enough (or large enough) to reflect some light back onto your subject.

It’s helpful if your subject has hair because that provides more surface area for the bounce light to reflect off of. This will give you more contrast in your final image and will make it easier to see where the shadows are.

Keep in mind that the further away you place your bounce board, the less impact it will have on your photo. If you’re using a large bounce board, try moving it closer; if you’re using a small one, try moving it farther away.

Light Bounce Photography Tips

Light bounce photography is one of the hottest trends in photography right now. It’s easy to see why.

It produces beautiful, soft-focused lighting that you just can’t achieve any other way. You don’t even have to be an expert photographer to do it – virtually anyone can get outstanding results with a little practice!

Trying to do light bounce photography without a light box is like trying to make pancakes without a griddle.

It’s possible, but not very easy, and you’re likely to end up with something that looks like a disaster instead of something edible. When you do it right, light bounces are quick, easy and fun.


The common materials for creating light boxes are cardboard boxes and foam boards. Cardboard boxes make cheap and portable light boxes, but they’re not as durable as foam board, which can last for years if properly stored when not in use.

Light bouncing works best when your subject is at least six inches away from the background surface. If you’re using foam board or another rigid surface like a wall or ceiling, you need to make sure there’s at least that much space between your subject and the background surface. You don’t want to have your model too close to the wall or they’ll cast a shadow on the background.

Indoor Scenes With Bounce Light

tOne of the most important elements in a great photograph is lighting. We can’t always control the lighting in a room, but we can adjust it to our benefit.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to use bounce flash to light up your indoor scenes. Make sure to read all of my Photo Basics tutorials as they cover these techniques and more!

Diffused bounce flash is a great way to light an indoor scene without using a flash directly on your subject.

It creates soft shadows, leaving your image with a beautiful and natural feel to it. This technique works best when you have large white walls or ceilings that you can bounce the flash off of.

You’ll need at least one light source, so if you’re shooting indoors at night and there’s no moon available, turn on some lamps or open up some blinds to get some natural, ambient light into the shot. 

If you don’t have any other light sources available, don’t worry – I’ll show you how to fake it using Photoshop’s built-in HDR feature later in this tutorial.

Dance Floor Photography Shot With Bounce Flash

Today on the blog we have a portraiture shot by David Peterson with an awesome lighting setup. We talked about using bounce flash in our previous post but here’s a setup that really takes it to the next level.

David says: 

“I had the idea of taking a photo of two people dancing and having the lights in the room create a nice background. The first shots I took with my Canon 5D Mark II were too dark and I thought about creating some light myself.

I placed my flash up high above and aimed it directly at the ceiling. The flash bounced off the ceiling and provided additional light for my subjects.

I also placed a second flash on each side of the room and aimed them at the walls. This added even more light to enhance my main light.

Each flash was set to manual mode so I could adjust its output according to the ambient light in the room. Finally, I opened up one of the windows so I could use that as another light source too.

Since I didn’t want any pink-colored light, I covered it with blue gels and put it on full power to act as fill light to balance out my main lights. This was very important.”

Photography Lighting Soft White Bounce

Soft white bounce is my favorite type of lighting. It is very versatile and it’s perfect for portrait, macro and product photography.

It’s easy to set up a soft white bounce light. 

The important thing is to find your desired angle in order to create the effect you want. 

A softbox is an easy way to create a completely even and diffused light.

Softboxes are so popular because they are easy to set up and more affordable than a studio strobe system. They are also relatively small so they can be transported when needed.

Softboxes can be used in many different ways depending on how you are setting up your photographs. You can use it as a background light or a key light.

If you place your subject closer to the wall behind the softbox, it will appear as if there is a bigger area of light around them. This will make them look larger or more important in the picture.

If you place your subject further away from the wall behind the softbox then it will appear as if there is less area of light around them. This will make them smaller or less important in the picture.

Natural Light Photography Techniques | Finding The Right Light For The Scene

Natural light can be tricky, but there are ways you can use it to your advantage. We’re going to cover some basic natural light photography techniques, focusing on finding the right light for whatever scene you’re capturing.

Taming the Sun

When shooting outdoors during the day, the sun is your main source of light. As a general rule, avoid shooting into it directly; this creates harsh shadows and unflattering glares on your subject.

If there’s no way around it (maybe you’re photographing a bride and groom at their wedding), make sure to underexpose your image so you don’t have to deal with super bright areas. If you’re willing to do a little bit of preparation, you can use the sun as an effective lighting tool.

Find a nice patch of open shade and set up your shoot there; the sunlight will still be hitting your subject directly, but you won’t have to worry about those harsh shadows or reflections. 

You’ll need to adjust your ISO settings so that your shutter speed is fast enough to properly expose for the shadows without overexposure from the sunlight. 

Practice makes perfect!

Natural Light Interiors

No matter what kind of setting you’re shooting in, natural light will be crucial.

Ways To Light Details For Wedding Reception Photography

Wedding details can be a great way to showcase your wedding photography.

TIP: If you are having a wedding in the evening, consider doing your detail shots at lunchtime.

You will get to see how the light looks at different times of day, and also how busy the restaurant is. The guests will all be gone so there will be no one to bother you while you are photographing. There may even be staff members that can help you find interesting places around the venue with good lighting.

One thing to keep in mind when shooting details is that they are taken from a different perspective than your typical portrait or wedding shot. 

While it can still be important to have a “good” background when shooting details, I would suggest that you focus more on trying to create a mood for the images rather than making sure it’s perfectly clean and “pretty.”


If there is an old wooden table in the room that isn’t too heavily damaged by time or use, try placing your detail subject on top of this table. The wood will give these images a great texture and warmth that can’t always be achieved with a clean white background.

How To Use Natural Light For Outdoor Portraits

Outdoor photography is an art

It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if you don’t have the right kind of light and you don’t know how to use it with your camera, the photo won’t turn out right.

We’ll go over some tips on how to use natural light for outdoor portraits.

TIP 1: Don’t be afraid to move in closer if necessary.

I know it may sound odd, but sometimes the best way to get a good shot of someone is to get right in their face. In order to capture an image like this, however, you will need to make sure that you’re using a fast enough shutter speed so that any movement as a result of stepping in closer (or backing away) isn’t picked up by your camera.

For example, if you’re shooting at f/5.6 at 1/250th of a second, that’s ideal for a person who is standing still. If you’re moving in closer or away from them, f/4 at 1/125th would be the better choice so that their features aren’t blurred due to camera shake from movement during the exposure time.

How To Bounce Light In Photos Like A Pro

Lighting is the most important element in any photograph. 

It’s something you can use to make your subjects look more professional..


The first thing to do is to pick a good background.

For product photography, you want a solid color that won’t compete with your subject. I often use white or cream, but there are many others that would work well.


For portraits, you can get away with using a colored background- just make sure it doesn’t overwhelm your subject.

Next is the lighting itself:

If you have expensive studio lights, great! You can skip this part. But if not, don’t worry- you can still get great photos! 

If you have windows in your house or office, chances are you already have everything you need for good lighting.

You’ll want to place your subject near a window so it gets nice and bright during the day. Or, if you’re taking a portrait of someone indoors, try setting up near a window and letting some light in from behind them.

If you don’t have any windows nearby, consider adding some artificial light. Even a single lamp will do wonders for your photos, and they’re relatively cheap if you don’t already own one. Try placing it directly behind your subject.

Bounce Light Camera Settings

A bounced flash will reduce the contrast of a scene. This can be very helpful when photographing products because it will fill in shadows and give the image a more even look.

It is also very effective at eliminating red eye.

TIP: If the flash seems too bright and the bounce doesn’t darken it enough, try bouncing the light into a white ceiling or wall.

This will make the light softer, but it won’t create much fill light because of the neutral color of the surface.

Bounce light is a great way to get fill-in flash pictures that are less harsh and more flattering than direct flash.

When you bounce light off the ceiling or walls, it’s softer and doesn’t create deep shadows. The best way to position your flash for bounce is to put it as far from the lens as possible so that the light hits the ceiling or other surface at an angle.

The easiest way to do this is to buy a cheap diffuser that screws onto the end of your flash.. This will also soften and spread out the light from your flash, which can be helpful in some situations.

Here are some external sites that can help you with bounce lighting:


What Can Be Used To Create Bounce Lighting In Film?

Lighting is an essential requirement for any photography production, whether you are shooting at home or on a professional set.

It can be difficult to get good quality light in the home, however, since you will not have access to professional lighting equipment.

But that does not mean that your pictures have to look bad! 

There are many ways that you can get the same natural light effects as those you would find on a professional movie set. 

Tungsten lights are normally used in homes and offices, but they do not create the kind of light that is required when taking a photograph.

The light is often too harsh and creates shadows which spoil the photo and make it look unnatural. This is where bounce lighting comes in.

Bounce lighting is created by bouncing the existing room light off a reflector or an object within the room until it hits the subject of the photograph. You may have seen this technique being used by photographers who use artificial lighting to take their photographs as it gives them greater control over the direction and quality of light and shadows.

To create this effect, you will need a special reflector which has been designed for this purpose. There are different types available with different features.

Bounce Light Is A Perfect Partner To Natural Light

Natural light is the best light to use when you are shooting your product photography. Bounce light is a perfect partner to natural light and can give you the extra fill you need in order to have beautiful product images.

Bounce light helps to fill in shadows, giving your product images more depth and dimension. This can be great for shooting jewellery, watches, knives and other shiny products.

There are several ways you can bounce light into your product shots:

Reflectors – A reflector will bounce the existing light back onto your subject. They come in many shapes and sizes and are relatively inexpensive.

They also double as a diffusion material if you don’t have any way of diffusing your light source. You can find reflectors at most camera shops or online retailers like

The Sun – If the sun is shining bright, try bouncing it off a nearby wall or ceiling onto your subject for soft lighting effects. This is a great way to warm up the cold blue/white natural sunlight that we get in the winter months here in Utah.

Your Flash – As I mentioned before about using a flash as the main light source, we can also use it as a bounce source. 

Bounce Light Photography Make Sure The Bounce Surface Is Colour Correct

Achieving great bounce light photography can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. 

I will help you understand how to achieve bounce light photography in a few easy steps.

STEP 1: The lighting.

The first thing you need to do is pick the right lighting equipment. You will need two lights, one to bounce off the ceiling and one to bounce off the wall.

If you are planning on using a flash for either of these, I recommend using a flash diffuser or soft box. This will soften up the flash and spread it over a larger area.

If you’re using studio lights, make sure to dim them down as much as possible until they are almost off so that they don’t create any harsh shadows. Also, try and bounce your light off the ceiling at an angle of 45 degrees (up or down).

This will create a much softer light than if it were directly above or below you. 

STEP 2: The subject.

When photographing someone or something, always try and position your subject near an area of white wall/ceiling (preferably in a room with no windows).

This creates a nice soft light around your subject which can make photographs full of texture. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this tutorial has given you a better understanding of bounce flash. 

For those of you who have not tried it before, I hope this gives you the courage to go out and give it a try.

Bounce flash is a wonderful way to get good, even lighting in your photographs; so long as you remember the golden rule of bounce flash photography – the angle between flash and subject should be 45 degrees or less.

Once you have mastered this technique, you’ll begin to see just how effective bounce flash is. 

Bounce flash photography is not something that everyone feels comfortable with, but it doesn’t have to be scary. With a little bit of knowledge and practice, you can master the technique and take some amazing portraits.

Using the light that bounces off the ceiling is an easy way to add more light to your photo, but it’s not always a good idea. If you are using a flash on top of your camera or in a soft box, bouncing the flash is a great way to get more light into your photo.

This lighting technique works best when you want soft lighting and want to keep your subject away from direct sunlight. Keep reading for tips on how to use bounce flash photography effectively!