This week a reader sent me an example of some flash shots where he was comparing different flash diffusers. The examples got me thinking about the various levels of diffusion for flashes and how important it is to understand what makes flash light look good. For those of you that are already using off-camera flash this may be old-hat but I know that about half of you need to be pushed into getting more comfortable using flash. When you learn to control the light you will get the best results.
A fundamental law of light: Big lights make soft diffuse light and small lights (your bare flash) make harsh shadows. To summarize: big light is beautiful diffuse light!
So since we don't want a bunch of harsh, ugly shadows in photos and the business end of a flash is very small, we need to do things to make flash appear bigger. Here are the three classic things that real estate photographers do to make the light from their flashes appear bigger and softer:
Experiment with these techniques to get a feel how they work in various situations. Note that you can use any of these techniques whether you are shooting all flash or hybrid flash/bracketing. Always try to use 2 or 3 or a combination of the two because the apparent light size is much bigger than 1.