Stack of colorful youth fiction books, showing the spines, lit by bounced flash

Flash Photography Adventures: Stack of Books

Flash photography was the goal of our One Picture a Day for today. I had a colorful stack of books on my shelf. I didn’t want to move them; I wanted them photographed as found. In order to focus on the variety of colors, I did not want any distractions from shadows or reflections. I needed even light. To achieve this affect, I waited until the sun was down and no longer shining from a nearby window. The room was otherwise dimly lit, with a table lamp ten feet away.

Using the Flash

The question became how to use the flash. Direct flash, of course, gave too many reflections. I tried a diffuser. However, I was working too close to the subject with my 18-55mm lens, so it gave reflections. I ended up bouncing the flash off of the nearby wall. Even then, I wasn’t pleased with the light right away, so I bracketed the flash strength; one stop reduced turned out to be the best. I did try using a diffuser while bouncing, too, but the diffuser actually directed too much of the light directly back at the subject, and gave reflections again. In the end it was just the bare flash, directed straight at the wall to the right of the subject.

The flash I use is a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight. The useful feature here was the articulated head so that I can direct the flash perpendicular to the subject to bounce off the ceiling or wall. I can rotate the head, too. I went to the right because I was orienting the camera 90 degrees for a “tall” frame, and the wall was handy. Had the wall been not nearby, I could have turned the camera 90 degrees as I did, but rotated the flash to direct it at the ceiling. It has other great features, but the directional feature is the important part for today’s photograph.

The camera was a Nikon D90; the lens, Nikkor 18-55mm VR, and the Nikon SB-600 flash dialed down one full stop. I used the camera in Program mode, with color set on “Vivid.” I did no post-processing.