Softboxes, diffusers that cover the flash lamp, scatter direct light and reduce its harshness.

Reflectors, including umbrellas, flat-white backgrounds, drapes and reflector cards are commonly used for this purpose (even with small hand-held flash units).

Bounce flash is a related technique in which flash is directed onto a reflective surface, for example a white ceiling or a flash umbrella, which then reflects light onto the subject.

It can be used as fill-flash or, if used indoors, as ambient lighting for the whole scene. Bouncing creates softer, less artificial-looking illumination than direct flash, often reducing overall contrast and expanding shadow and highlight detail, and typically requires more flash power than direct lighting.

Part of the bounced light can be also aimed directly on the subject by "bounce cards" attached to the flash unit which increase the efficiency of the flash and illuminate shadows cast by light coming from the ceiling.

It's also possible to use one's own palm for that purpose, resulting in warmer tones on the picture, as well as eliminating the need to carry additional accessories.

Fill flash or "fill-in flash" describes flash used to supplement ambient light in order to illuminate a subject close to the camera that would otherwise be in shade relative to the rest of the scene.

The flash unit is set to expose the subject correctly at a given aperture, while shutter speed is calculated to correctly expose for the background or ambient light at that aperture setting.

Strobe: Some high end units can be set to flash a specified number of times at a specified frequency. This allows action to be frozen multiple times in a single exposure.

Colored gels can also be used to change the color of the flash. Correction gels are commonly used, so that the light of the flash is the same as tungsten lights (using a CTO gel) or fluorescent lights