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Tips & Tricks

Using Light Modifiers: Softbox vs. Reflector vs. Umbrella

By Hanssie on July 2nd 2015

Light is a powerful tool. It can make someone look ten years younger, or heaven forbid, ten years older. It can help the camera add 10lbs or magically “take away” those extra pounds. Light can set the tone of your portrait from something bright and cheery to dark and ominous. Knowing how to shape the light so that it gives you the look you seek will help you become a better photographer and create better images. So, it is integral as a photographer to learn as much as you can about light, modifying light, and using it to your full advantage.

common-light-modifiersA light modifier will shape the light so you can have control of the outcome. When it comes to light modifiers, you have many accessories to choose from. But with so many options out there, when you’re just getting started, it’s pretty easy to get them all confused.

In the following Adorama Pro video, Daniel Norton talks about three of the most common light modifiers – a softbox, a reflector, and an umbrella – and when to use them. The video is brief – 2.5 minutes – and is a great start for beginners just getting into learning about light and how to use it to enhance your images.


If you are just beginning to walk toward the light (sorry, I had to), make sure you check out some of our articles on the topic:

And if you really want to get serious and step up your lighting game, check out our Lighting 101 Workshop DVD to build the foundation you need. Also, this is the month we will be releasing the highly anticipated follow-up, Lighting 201, so join our Facebook Community Group for updates and sneak peeks!

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hassanien Moawad

    Finally I knew the difference between the 3 modifiers :)

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  2. Brandon Dewey

    great video!

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