How can I avoid shadows under the eyes when I am bouncing flash? The first picture below, using bounced flash, came out horrible. The second picture, using direct flash, has no shadows under the eyes.

How can I bounce flash, but avoid dark shadows under the eyes?

Canon 430EX and T3i @1/200th, ISO 400, f/5 "horrible using bounce mode"

"perfect with no shadows"

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    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to have an odd sense of "perfect". The direct result (flat, no modelling, odd specularity, "alien" eyes) is what most of us are trying to get away from; and something like the upper image is what we're trying to move toward. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Apr 1, 2013 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually agree with you. I am trying to avoid using direct flash, however the bounce mode creates shadows under the eyes which are much worse anything I get in the direct flash. Hopefully I can find a way to use bounce mode and avoid the shadows. \$\endgroup\$
    – Max C
    Apr 1, 2013 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree as well. Sun light mostly comes from above, that is why the 'normal' bounced light is considered more natural. But of course: photography is making choices, and when you like a little direct light, just do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – FW.
    Apr 1, 2013 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Try bouncing from a wall rather than the ceiling for cross light ("Rembrandt lighting"). It's almost always more pleasing than overhead bounce. But the shadows in the upper image are good, and there is already adequate fill; adding more fill would make it worse, not better. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Apr 1, 2013 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


Broadly, you want something that bounces part of the light forward while also bouncing some off the ceiling. Personally, I use either the built in bounce card on my 600EX-RT or I use the Lumiquest QuickBounce that has a set of doors you can open to reflect about 20% of the light forward while bouncing the rest off the ceiling.

The bounce card is normally sufficient, but the QuickBounce seems to send a little more light in directly.


Some flashes do have a built in bounce card, a little white card in the flash head. You could pop it up so a bit of the light will fill in the shadows under the eyes.

When your flashes does not have a bounce card, you could make such a card yourself. diy flash card

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Yep combines the softness of the bounce, and fills shadows a little bit and adds a nice catchlight. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Apr 1, 2013 at 18:45

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