Flash Head Tilt Swivel
All on-camera speedlites reviewed in this website will allow the flash head to move from side to side and up and down. This is a basic feature and is required in order to bounce the light off nearby walls, ceilings, white cards or reflectors strategically positioned to reflect the light onto the subject.
Aiming the flash head directly at a subject does not usually produce flattering results when photographing people. Direct light can cause hard shadows under the subject’s nose or chin or on a wall behind especially if you turn the camera on its side to take portrait orientation images rather than landscape orientation images.
If you can’t get your speedlite off your camera, or it’s not convenient for you then moving your flash head (tilt and swivel) to bounce the light off a nearby white or neutral coloured surface will allow the light to spread out and diffuse resulting in softer and more directional shadows. You’ll usually have to increase the power of the flash or change your camera’s exposure settings to compensate for less light hitting the subject. Some of the light from the flash will be absorbed by the wall, ceiling etc. especially if it’s not pure white and much of the light will be reflected in other directions and miss the subject completely wasting it.
If you are using this technique then try to avoid bouncing the light off coloured surfaces as this will produced a similar coloured light cast that may cause strange or unwanted results. i.e. bouncing the light of a green wall will make the subject look green and rather ill looking.
When shooting subjects close to the camera in the range of around 0.5 to 2m many speedlites allow you to tilt the flash head down at an angle of 7º to provide better flash coverage. However it’s often easy to knock the flash head down by accident and not notice that it’s not pointing directly ahead which may have a significant effect on the results if shooting under normal conditions. When the flash head is tilted downwards Canon display a small flash head icon with a downwards pointing arrow to warn you. It’s not that obvious and easy to miss.
The Canon 470EX-AI takes the bounce flash technique to a new level. It includes a new Auto Intelligent (AI) function that’s been cleverly designed to work out the optimum position of the flash head before automatically manoeuvring it to create the best possible lighting results in any given shooting environment.