BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 

Preventing flash hotspot on faces

I do some backyard portraits using a D-SLR, a flash on a bracket, and filter the flash with a diffuser. I tilt the flash up 45 degrees or more. I still get some glare/reflection/hot spots on the tip of the nose and other light spots. I turn down my flash but still get the hot spots. Would a polarising filter stop these hot spots?

To love this question, log in above
4/10/2005 6:50:30 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Not diffused enough
tissue, wax paper, or even something that was made to fit directly over the flash face only diffuses the light well enough for a not more than a foot &1/2 away
Bounce it off of something, or shoot it through something like a 3ft square of nylon.

To love this comment, log in above
4/10/2005 1:19:29 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  there's also makeup

To love this comment, log in above
4/10/2005 1:34:57 PM

Kerry L. Walker   What type diffuser are you using?

To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2005 6:46:18 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Howdy Dan: You mentioned pointing the camera up at a 45 degree angle without using a diffusion. In that sense, it sounds like you're trying to use the sky to bounce your flash in order to soften the lighting. Bounce flash is intended to bounce light off something, either a device attached to the flash or a ceiling to achieve softer flash lighting.

For outdoor portraits, the sun or diffused sunlight from cloud cover, etc., acts as your main light source. Flash can be used as a fill light to fill in harsh shadows, especially when the sunlight is coming more from directly overhead.

Your problem sounds like your subjects are just reflecting the outdoor light, as Greg briefly suggested. Outdoor light can be pretty harsh and skin reflections reduced significantly by using a bit of make-up like facial powder applied sparingly to the noses and cheeks of your subjects. You can even use a bit of "concealer" purchased from make-up counters at most department stores, to lighten up any dark circles under your victims (ummmm subjects) eyes.

If you want to warm up the skin tones a bit, add an 81A or 81B filter on your lens to the receipe especially if you're shooting during mid-day between 10AM and 3 P.M. or so. That way you won't have to fix it in photoshop. ;>)

Then use your flash you have, (probably in manual mode) with or without a diffuser, (do some experimenting) at reduced power, so it's say 1-2 stops LESS than your ambient readings, you should notice a distinct improvement.

And, if you want to get really fancy and have a bit of help, use a diffusion panel, roughly 3-4' square, made out of translucent silkscreen or similar material stretched on a frame of some kind and held by a helper to diffuse any direct sunlight on your subjects. You can also buy diffusion panels at B&H in NY. With a different material that has greater density and more reflectance, you can use the same frames to hold reflector panels to bounce light (daylight or flash) back into your subjects.
Take it light and have fun.

To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2005 4:38:24 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.