Nikon Learn & Explore

Speedlight Tutorial: Bounce Technique

For folks who are used to only using Speedlights on the camera’s hot-shoe, wireless off-camera lighting may seem like a daunting proposition, but its easy with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System. Set up a Speedlight or two (or more) and control their power output right from your Nikon D-SLR. Using your Speedlights off-camera will give your images more dramatic lighting than straight-on flash.

Corporate shooter David Tejada works on location. His subjects are found on job sites, industrial factory floors and executive offices. Because he works primarily on location, David brings a minimum amount of gear with him when he travels. Using just a few Speedlights, he’s able to create photographs that look as if the lighting set-ups were more complex.

A simple bounce technique—bouncing the light from a single Speedlight off of a wall will give you a large, soft light source with which to illuminate a portrait subject. The addition of an accent light will further separate your subject from the background. Speaking of the background, with a fast lens and large aperture, you can throw that background out of focus. David uses this technique to photograph a model in a long hallway that isn't photogenic—effectively getting rid of a drab, badly lit hallway.

lighting diagram for David Tejada photo of model bounce light

The main SB-900 Speedlight is set to Channel 1, Group A. The flag on the Speedlight ensures that no light hits the subject directly. The accent SB-700 Speedlight is set to Channel 1, Group B. With a grid, its positioned so the light accents the model’s hair and shoulders. The white balance is set to Cool White Fluorescent (3900-4500 °K), to balance the ambient Flourescent light with the Speedlights, which each had a fluorescent gel and ¼ CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel to balance the lighting. The camera's built-in pop-up flash acts as the Master to set off the remote Speedlights. A D7000 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens was used to capture the images, exposure was 1/125 second at f/2.8, ISO 400.

© David Tejada

Using bounce lighting for portraits.

Watch the video to learn how an off-camera, wireless Speedlight can turn a drab looking corridor into a Bokeh filled background for a great portrait.