If you haven’t already, check out Lighting Part 1 to help you get an understanding of Part 2.
What is diffusion? Diffusion is the scattering of light in many directions as the result of reflection from an uneven surface or passage though a translucent material. What this equates to is you must either put something in front of the flash in order to enlarge and soften the light or reflect it off a nearby wall or other object. It is important to note that light will take on the color of whatever it bounces off of or passes through. If you use a green wall to bounce your flash then you will have green light on your subject. Unless your subject is the Incredible Hulk this might not be a good idea. Moral of the story: Be careful what you use to reflect your flash. Most of the time however, walls and/or ceilings are white. Lucky us!! Remember, the larger and closer the light source the more diffusion/softness you get (another reason large white walls work great)
My personal preference is to have the light pass through a diffuser such as a translucent umbrella or softbox. Hand held, fold out reflectors/diffusers work great for this too but require either an assistant or additional stands and arms. If you do not have an off camera flash and you find yourself out in the middle of the day grab one of the hand held reflectors/diffusers. Try to position it between the sun and your subject and you will get beautiful results. This is because you are taking the small, powerful and far away source of light (the sun) and turning it into a large, close and diffuse light source.
It is the light that we use to create our images and tell our stories. I encourage you to learn all you can about how lighting works, both natural and artificial. You will be come a better photographer as you learn to see the light and understand its effects.
Stay tuned for Lighting Part 3 as we discuss artificial lighting options such as strobes, reflectors, lightstands, softboxes, umbrellas and much more.