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A Bounce Card (depending on it's size) directs approximately 85% of the light upwards to bounce from the ceiling, and the other 15% forward to fill in the subject from the camera position. This overcomes the problem of "racoon eyes" which is the result of being so close to the subject that the light bounced back from the ceiling leaves shadows in the eye sockets of the subject. The bounce card directs a small amount of light forward to fill in these shadows and when close enough, creates very nice "catch lights" in the eyes. Because only 15% of the light is directed forward, the effective distance from flash to the subject is limited.
Lite-Scoop vs Bounce Card
With both flash modifiers, the flash is pointed upwards towards the ceiling. With a bounce card it should be pointed slightly (1 click) forward.
The Lite-Scoop directs approximately 75%-80% if the light forward, and the balance of the light is almost evenly distributed upwards and to the sides. It is as effective out of doors as indoors because it does not depend on light being bounced back from another object. Because most of the light bounces from it's own true white relector, coloured walls and ceilings do not present a problem. The "source of light\" now becomes the Scoop rather than the flash, which is both much larger and further away from the camera lens than the flash head, so red-eye is almost totally eliminated. Skin tones are enhanced, spectral highlights are greatly improved and shadows are reduced, softened, and thrown further down behind the subject. By mounting the Lite-Scoop as per the instructions, the light is directed from a position higher than the lens in both portrait and landscape modes. This keeps the shadows lower and less objectionable, especially in portrait mode.
Check out many more advantages of the Lite-Scoop reflector here.
There are obvious limitations to the effective use of bounce cards such as:
A lot of light is "lost" so bouncing limits the flash to subject distance. Depending on the conditions, a bounce card can lose as much as four F/stops of light.
High ceilings, dark ceilings, or no ceilings (out of doors) pretty well makes the bounce card, or even bouncing without a bounce card, totally ineffective unless the flash to subject distance is closer than a few feet.
Because 85% of the light that is going to light the subject is coming from the object from which it is bounced, the light will be the same colour as the object. If, for example, you are bouncing from a bright yellow wall or ceiling, the light returning from that wall or ceiling will be yellow. Under these situations a custom colour adjustment in the camera should be made before shooting each time the colour of the wall or ceiling changes.
With a wide angle lens, a bounce card tends to direct too little light downwards, resulting in underexposed foregrounds.
The bounce card that is built into some speedlight models, because of it's small size, is even more limited in flash to subject distance than add-on models. Also built-in bounce cards do not have the ability to keep the flash pointed upwards for portrait mode shots like add-on bounce cards can do.
A bounce card is most effective in a home with standard height, white ceilings and neutral coloured, light walls and draperies.