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Lighting with a Bounce

Riley Hooper
October 21, 2011 by Riley Hooper PRO

Hey Vimeans! It’s time to bounce. And no, I don’t mean the slang term for exiting a location or situation. I mean the tool used by professionals to attain beautiful lighting! A bounce is used to literally bounce or reflect light onto your subject. It’s handy for evening out harsh shadows and dispersing light so it doesn’t appear to be coming from a single source. There are two types of situations where bounces are especially useful: when shooting outside in the harsh sun, and indoors with artificial light.

On a recent sunny day we took the opportunity to create this quick tutorial video to demonstrate bounce lighting techniques with a collapsable disc reflector:


Notice the difference between the lighting on Dan and Riley’s faces before and after the reflector is used. By bouncing sunlight onto an area that was shaded, we were able to get rid of those distracting shadows and attain even light. In addition to dispersing sunlight, bounces are often used to diffuse artificial lights when lighting indoors. You may have seen professionals using umbrellas in their lighting set-ups. That’s a bounce! So is a white wall, if you bounce a light onto it. Any surface used to reflect or diffuse light is a bounce.

Here’s a professional reflector, but really any reflective surface available will do in a pinch.(Image Courtesy of Shutterstock)

For further explanation check out this video by Vimeo community member, Olivia Speranza-


Take note of her suggestion to place your subject with his or her back to the sun and use the bounce as a fill light. Reflectors come in different surfaces and colors, each of which produce a different effect. A white surface will produce a relatively soft, matte light. A silver surface amplifies the light and will thus produce a stronger fill light. A gold surface also amplifies the light to produce a stronger fill light of a warmer tone. Disc reflectors are relatively inexpensive, and can add a world of difference to your videos’ production value.

Alright Vimeo, it’s time for me to bounce, and it’s time for you to practice bounce lighting!



This was a great refresher. I learned this years ago and forgot all about it! Two thumbs up!


Always forget to bring the bounce. I think one of their disadvantages is the size. Also it does attract lots of attention.

Jeffrey Byrnes

I would have started with how to diffuse and add a bounce. I noticed as you were speaking and when sitting and laughing, you were squinting due to harsh lighting conditions, bounce is great when you've got great light to bounce with. Diffuse, fill with bounce.

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