|Photo by Neil van Niekerk|
Once you get into bouncing your accessory flash off of walls, ceilings, and other objects to get better flash photography results, you'll never again go back to straight ahead fired flash...which can be very harsh looking in the final photo.
The photo above by Neil van Niekerk is a perfect example of using bounced flash to fill in the existing light in a photo to get fantastic and natural looking flash results. This shot would have been impossible with straight ahead fired flash. It had to be bounced to achieve this even lighting on the girl with a nice balance of the background light. Neil is a genius on flash photography. I highly recommend his book entitled "On-Camera Flash".
If you use an accessory/external flash and you're looking to improve your results even further beyond simple bouncing to achieve the kind of results in the direction of what Neil does, then get these two cheap accessories:
Back in the day, photographers used to achieve bounced straight ahead flash by aiming their flash up and rubber-banding an index card to the flash to bounce the light forward. It worked great to bounce the flash forward, but it wasn't very flexible.
You can see photos of how it's used on their web site at this link. It can also be flipped over and used as a flash flag to prevent flash light from reaching a particular area of your subject.
It's not often that you can buy an accessory for your camera that's cheap but has dramatic results. These two simple devices work terrific and should be in the bag of every photographer who's interested in getting better flash results.