TTL speedlight flashes still read bounced flash output via TTL, so your exposures should be about right. But the quality and direction of light from bounced flash will create softer light and eliminate red-eye reflections. Bouncing flash off ceilings also brightens up big rooms, reducing dark backgrounds. Next time you’re at a party, try a test bounce-flash shot and see what you get; you might be surprised.
3. Shoot holiday lights at twilight. One of the best things about winter is that many people adorn their houses and trees with holiday lights, which are great subject matter to photograph during the season.
My favorite time to shoot is at twilight. The perfect time is when your exposure renders the lights bright against a deep-purple sky. Wait too long, and the sky goes dark; shoot too early, and the lights don’t show well. Don’t limit yourself to shooting houses with lights—create your own scene to shoot. I like to add holiday lights to glowing tents, skis, snowshoes or anything else that will be interesting. If you don’t have an extension cord to reach your string of lights, try using a portable generator to give you power.
Another fun activity photographing holiday lights is using long exposures and zooming during the exposure. Also try rotating your camera during the exposure. You can produce an endless kaleidoscope of colors and motion blurs.
4. Practice macro shooting on ice crystals. Each winter we get a cold snap that keeps the environment in a deep freeze. One by-product of these cold temperatures are elaborate, feather-shaped ice crystals on the windows. These patterns can be very intricate and graphic, a perfect subject for macro photography.
To get really close, you need a macro lens. Macro lenses allow you to focus very close to the subject, resulting in life-size reproduction of the subject. If you don’t have a macro lens, try an extension tube or a diopter lens. These accessories allow you to focus closer using your existing lenses and get 1:1 reproduction of the subject. Keep your lens flat against the window to maximize depth of field. A tripod is critical to keep things steady and sharp. The best part about photographing ice crystals in windows is you’re warm and cozy shooting from inside. Break out the cocoa!
5. Dial up your ISO for indoor shots. Today’s cameras offer improved technology that even a few years ago would seem impossible to accomplish. One area that has seen incredible improvement is the high-ISO performance of digital cameras. Today, we can easily shoot at ISO speeds of 800, 1600 and even 3200 with minimal noise in the final image. Use this to your advantage next time you’re shooting indoors and don’t have a flash. Dial up your ISO and shoot away. I recently photographed an ice skater in an indoor rink for a magazine story. The light was low, so I set my ISO at 3200 and produced handheld tack-sharp images.