Lighting from above

Many a photographer, wanting to avoid the flat lighting that accompanies using their camera's flash straight on, simply flips the unit so that it faces skywards. The flash light then bounces off the ceiling and then onto the subject. The results do provide more texture in the face, but often the eyes are hidden in the dark shadows of the brows. Similar results regularly occur when photographing portraits outside when the sun is high. Top lighting is generally not used for portraiture for this reason (see Figure 23.5).

Instead of bouncing your light off the ceiling, try twisting it sidewards and reflecting it off a white wall. This will give you much better results that look and feel like soft window light. If you must shoot in the middle of the day with the sun above, try adding a little fill-flash to lighten the shadows around the eyes. Most modern cameras contain the option for this flash mode and, unlike the bad old days of manual flash calculations, the camera will generally balance the daylight and flash exposures as well.

Figure 23.6 Lighting from behind.

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