Just like fall, the lights, colors and photo ops during this joyous (and stressful) time of year can be very rewarding. I love to take detail shots- ornaments on trees, presents, ribbons and bows. The lights especially can be fun to shoot. Numerous yard displays all aglow just waiting for you.
Family time can be especially challenging. Everyone moving at the speed of light, ripping through paper and tearing open boxes before moving on. It is during these fast paced encounters that shooting with bent flash head with a reflector card and a manual flash setting can really prove worth while. For those who have never tried a bounce flash technique, the benefits are two-fold.
First, the flash is not a direct light source. It bounces off the ceiling and the reflector card giving a broader, softer, dual-light source. The reflector card is not absolutely necessary however. Just bouncing off the ceiling alone will give a more pleasing light overall. Second, the manual setting gives you complete control over how powerful the light source will be. If you are in a room with very high ceilings, a higher maual setting will be needed. Your individual settings will vary depending on the ISO, how far away your subject is located and what focal length/zoom you are shooting. Remember, with a bounce flash technique your flash-to-subject distance is the distance from the flash head to the ceiling and back down to the subject NOT from the photographer to the subject.
Granted these are not priceless to anyone but me, but there is nothing I hate worse than direct, harsh flash. It is well worth the few extra minutes it takes to make a few test shots to ensure your manual flash settings are correct. Try shooting in Shutter Priority- usually designated by S or Tv on your camera dial, and set the shutter speed for 1/60 of a second. If you are really brave, you can lower it to 1/30 but any movement by you or the subject will blur.
I understand that TTL is meant to take the guesswork out of shooting photos, but your camera is fallible. By having complete control over the camera and flash settings, you can accurately reproduce your results. TTL does not allow that. You are solely at the mercy of the internal workings of the machine in your hands and therefore powerless!