When you have a dedicated flash unit, adding some accessories can help you can get the most out of it, resulting in even more creative and artistic photos. Like nearly every other piece of photographic equipment, a flash unit has accessories that go with it to enhance the effects. The following items will help modify the flash, and avoid problems in your photos, such as harsh or unattractive lighting. Flash accessories give you subtle, but highly effective means to change the quality, direction and photographic effects of your standard flash.
A great accessory for your flash is a bouncer, a nifty little attachment that fits on to your dedicated flash unit. As the name suggests, bouncers bounce the flash’s light output at the subject. The bounced light is softer than the direct light from the flash, so if you find the light from a flash unit unduly harsh, then use the flash bouncer to soften and diffuse the light. In addition, you can be creative and place a segment of color on the bouncer and cast a pastel light on to your subject. You’ll want to use a flash bouncer when you recognize that the light directly from the flash is going to be too harsh and flatten out the contours on your subject. The bouncer will reflect the powerful output from the flash off the ceiling (or rear wall) and elevate the ambient light in the room. It’s best to use the bouncer when you’re inside and the ceilings aren’t too low.
These are semi-opaque attachments that fit directly on or in front of the flash head. They’re like mini-soft boxes (devices that diffuse, soften and disperse the light from a lamp) except they’re made for your flash unit. The diffuser scatters the light from the flash, so it no longer comes from a single, focused source. Diffusers allow for more controlled and less contrasted direct illumination from the flash unit, thereby eliminating the harsh light and softening the shadows inherent with flash photography. With diffusers, photographs have a more natural look and feel. The flash diffuser won’t affect your photos if you choose to shoot vertically, because of the manner in which the diffuser splinters the light. Flash diffusers are great for quick portraits (when you don’t have time or didn’t bring actual photo lighting), weddings and other large events where you’ll be taking a lot of photos and don’t want to blind people with the flash.
Flash Reflectors are very similar to Flash Bouncers, in that they fit on your flash unit and reflect the light at your subject. Usually a reflector has a shiny surface such as silver or gold with the same light-affecting qualities that we discussed earlier. The Flash Reflector spreads the effects of the flash around the room, and works to soften the light hitting the subject. Flash reflectors are useful in many situations where you know direct flash is objectionable, but you still want that illuminating power.
These flash accessories have one main objective to reduce or eliminate the harsh lighting effects from a flash unit. There are some circumstances where you can’t get away without a flash, but you know that using a flash will compromise the quality of your images. These attachments enable you to shoot with the flash while avoiding the drawbacks associated with using a flash. In addition, you can get create artistic effects with these flash accessories that can make your flash photographs much more interesting.