Today’s quick tip is about bouncing your light and reflectance values.
First thing to note, everything you’re going to come in contact with in your everyday life is going to have a reflectance value, meaning some amount of light will reflect off of a given surface if you flash a light into it, even the blackest of black clothes. Why is this? Well, without getting into scientific calculations which you can research yourself, there are no items with a reflectance of zero or absolute black items in everyday life, just as there are no absolute white items. Every item no matter how black will reflect some amount of light.
What does this mean for you. Well, if everything has a reflectance value, anything and everything can potentially be a reflector. Have you ever gone into a room with very dark or black walls where you wanted a quick shot of someone and you didn’t even try bouncing your flash because you thought you’d never get a good result? I think we all have been at that point, but how many of us have tried anyway and gotten results that surprised us.
What’s the best method? Experiment and see what you find out, my normal method is to use the fastest lens I have, crank up my ISO to a point where I’m comfortable with the noise, kick up my flash compensation, point my flash at the dark object and give it a try. A lot of the time I will get results that I’m pleased with, if not then I try a different angle or find a different object to reflect my light. You will have to watch for color cast and shape of the object you’re using to reflect, since you want your light traveling in the direction you want, but that’s all about experimenting.
Overall I’m not saying that dark materials make for great reflectors and you should do this all the time, but it’s important to try things no matter who tells you it’s not possible or the right thing to do, you never know what you’ll get and you never know what you can create.