Having full creative control of your light, whether it be direction, quality, diffusion, or color, will yield a higher production quality in your work. In our Lighting 201 workshop, we cover all you need to know for off-camera flash light shaping, to help you decide what exactly gear you need to accomplish extraordinary imagery. See which compact OCF light modifiers we prefer and why.
Diffusion & Bounce
1. Diffusion Cloth
You can pick up a translucent white cloth from your local craft or fabric store and DIY your way into creating a light panel. If you aren’t one for crafting there are plenty of pre-made, durable cloths like the Photoflex Litepanel. A diffusion cloth can be used anywhere to serve the purpose of a scrim which brings us to our next crucial modifier.
2. Wescott 5-in-1
The most beneficial and resourceful lighting tool in a photographer’s kit, no matter how rudimentary it may seem, is a 5-n-1 reflector. It’s versatility is unparalleled allowing you to block, bounce, add, and diffuse light just in a couple of zips. They are an inexpensive tool that could provide the perfect modification when you are in a pinch.
3. DIY V-Flat
A V-flat is a fantastic light modifier you can create for about 20 bucks. The one shown above is a foam core from Home Depot with white on one side and it has black on the other that is simply cut down the middle and taped. The only downfall to using a v-flat on set is that it needs to be manned due to its delicate nature, but once secured it acts as a white wall perfect for light to reflect and bounce off of.
4. Westcott Shoot Through Umbrella
Although white shoot through umbrellas retail for cheap on Amazon and EBay, this is a lesson in quality versus quantity. Overtime the inexpensive versions collapse and shrivel up costing you more in the long run. Shoot through umbrellas act as a beautiful, portable soft light in any scene, but keep in mind that light spread is hard to control due to the short edges of the umbrella.
5. Westcott Rapidbox
These next several options are similar to umbrellas but they pack way more power. They’re slightly longer and slightly larger than umbrellas, but they serve the same purpose: to be a large, portable, parabolic softbox. By zipping in your flash to the middle hole in the umbrella, you are able to control light spill therefore giving you one step up in control over a shoot through umbrella.
6. Westcott Apollo Orb
Used as a bounce umbrella, light reflected onto the silver interior of the orb bounces back and gives off a bright, specular light source. We usually use these indoors as it is a little too big for on-the-go lighting equipment.
7. Westcott Apollo Strip
Since the Orb is too cumbersome, the Strip comes in handy when you need a portable tool to do the same job. Using a Cheetah Bracket we can mount three flashes and achieve beautiful soft light. The cut-outs on the sides help for those using manual flashes, making it easy to adjust power settings without breaking down the entire unit.
High Power Softboxes
8. Pprofoto 3″ RFI Octa Softbox
When using larger strobes, like the Profoto B1 & B2, we prefer using this softbox due to its durability. These lights carry more weight and the bracket included with the softbox helps secure and fasten the light even when attached to a monopod. The Octa is perfect for creating a catchlight in your subject’s eye. Add the 50 degree grid for more control.
9. Profoto 2×3 RFi Rectangular Soft Box
Thanks to the RFi speed rings, both the Octa and the Rectangular Profoto softboxes are compatible with well-over 20 flash brands, making them versatile for a range of photographers. Although the set-up takes quite some time and the price is significantly higher, they make up for it in value. Each softbox is equipped with double-layered diffusers and a highly reflective silver interior, giving you better quality of light. Add a 50 degree grid for more control.
*SLRL Premium members receive $10 off your entire purchase for MagMod Products!
When it comes to compact light shaping tools, MagMod sweeps the market with their easy-to-use functionality and outstanding quality of control. Their revolutionarly MagGrip is designed to adhere to their treasure chest of light shaping tools whether it be diffusion (Magsphere), pinpointed control (MagSnoot), color correction (MagGel), or powerful light (MagBounce), they’ve got you covered.
Wescott Apollo ORB & Strip Grids
Just like the Profoto Grids mentioned above, these Westcott grids made for the Rectangualr and Orb softboxes adhere to the sides as shown in the image. Grids are used for better control of light, and the larger the light source the bigger the grid needed. Even for simple pocket strobes, a grid takes a large spread of light and pinpoints it giving you exact control of your light.
In Lighting 201 we discuss various methods of light modifying through the use of DIY Gobos (go between object) that offer interesting alterations to light. Making these yourself can cost anywhere from $5-20 depending on where you buy your material but in the grand scheme of things will end up saving you from buying more expensive grids that you might not end up using frequently.
Gels are most commonly used for color correction but also for creative color effects. When you want to play around with your in-camera temperature ,it is important to have a few gels in your toolkit to ensure that you are keeping skintones consistent over the course of your shoot. CTO (Color Temperature Orange) and CTB (Color Temperature Blue) are the most commonly purchased gels and are offered in different strengths of color, however, for creative effects there are a multitude of colors to choose from.
Decide which modifiers you are in need of that are within your budget and get the accessories that will compliment them and enhance your imagery. Tell us some of your favorite lighting modifiers in the comments below, and be sure to check out Lighting 201, available in store or in our Premium library.