One of the cheapest lighting modifiers to use is a handheld white surface, often called a bounce card, to direct fill light toward a subject. When the light source is the sun, or a small speedlight, this is said to be effective for filling in unsightly shadows and flattening the exposure somewhat for a more pleasing appearance. It is a fine idea for people, but what about insects? Will bouncing back some of that diffused key light greatly improve the appearance of a photo? I did some experimentation to find out.
In the following series of frames showing a Silphid beetle (Sexton Beetle) of the genus Nicrophorus, the key light is a speedlight diffused with the Cheapskate Diffuser MK II, and the bounce card is placed directly beside the subject to the right.
In these next two frames, the diffused key light is also above and to the left, a second bare speedlight (in the Monster Macro Rig) lights the background, and the bounce is directly below the subject.
OK, so with a bounce card in the bag, what else can we do?
Well, it can make a nice instant white background, changing this:
All in all, the effect of the bounce card seems to be rather subtle in most cases, but may be useful for filling harsh shadows in a way that avoids the dreaded double highlights of using fill flash (especially in the eyes of the subject). Because it is cheap and light to carry, I think I will keep it in my photo bag, but will probably be judicious in its use. I think it is probably only suitable for things that don’t fly too readily!
I am sure I am just scratching the surface of using a card to bounce fill onto a subject, but I am itching to show you more of these beautiful beetles.