Quick Tip — Two-fingered fill flash

Two-fingers fill flash is a grea)t technique to learn. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd

Two-fingers fill flash is a great technique to learn. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd

Here’s a tip I was taught by an old news photographer when I first got my start in the business. When you’re shooting bounce flash and need to fill the light in people’s eyes so there’s no dark sockets there, a great technique to use is “two fingers” fill light.  Simply hold your off-camera strobe (see tip on off-camera corded flash) in your left hand and extend two fingers over the top of the flash . Angle these fingers at 45 degrees toward your subject and shoot a test.  Voila!  Perfect, warm fill light on your subjects’ faces! Not only will you get nice fill light but your skin will add warmth to the color of the strobe light.

Go ahead and try this: shoot a bounce flash exposure straight up against an 8 ft. ceiling. You’ll see the darkened eye sockets that are so unflattering (below left) and the blown-out light on the cheeks of your subject. Now simply add the “two fingers” technique describe above. (See below right)

Ta-dah!! Quite a difference!

Straight bounce light off white ceiling: contrasty eye sockets, dark areas on face.

Straight bounce light off white ceiling: contrasty eye sockets, dark areas on face.

Two-fingers bounce flash: warmer, softer light on face, no bad shadows!

Two-fingers bounce flash: warmer, softer light on face, no bad shadows!

Posted in: How To

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

11 Comments on "Quick Tip — Two-fingered fill flash"

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  1. Will Bailey says:

    I always wondered why you did that. Now I see the difference. Great tip.

  2. Yeah, it’s the best fill light! Always with you, never lost, ready to provide that soft, warm light!

  3. gene says:

    i am new to photography i have a canon 50d with a tamron 18-270 and i really really love photography and special people like you that share really kooool information keep up the wondurful work you take th time to do

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Gene, and welcome!

  5. Nick says:

    I’m an amateur photographer and this is great information, I’ll have to try this! I always wondered why professionals didn’t use a flash directly, now I feel more informed, thanks!

  6. Sandra says:

    The shoot was great and now I know what is the difference by using the camera. Thanks for the information keep up the wonderful work you take the time to do.

  7. Cathy says:

    That was fantastic idea. I really really love photography and special people like you that share really cool information keep up the wonderful work you take the time to do. Thank you.

  8. Sara says:

    That was a great tip. It was a great shot. Thank you for the tips that you share to us. I learn more about your blog. Thank you.

  9. Sara says:

    I’m an amateur photographer and this is great information. The shoot was great and now I know what is the difference by using the camera.

  10. Simon says:

    Such a simple tip, but very useful. Thank you!

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