Our Favorite Ultra-Portable OCF Light Modifiers | Transcription
In this video we want to cover kind of the most commonly used modifiers that we’re going to be using in this course and just in general, kind of the light modifiers that we find most functional on our shoots. Of course, we’re not going to be demonstrating and showing you these that we don’t do in our shoots. That’d be just ridiculous. All right, let’s start from the top with diffusion cloth. Logan, diffusion cloth me. Logan, diffusion cloth me, diffusion cloth. Thank you. Diffusion cloth, you guys can pick this up from any local cloth store, or cloth market. I don’t know, wherever you get to buy cloth. Jo-Ann’s for us.
This is ten bucks for like several square yards of it and that’s really all you need and this is a great light modifier because you can use it anywhere in place of basically, a scrim. It’s just going to simply soften the amount of light a little bit. We actually have some up on these lights, just because it’s easy to clip on to a light source and get a little bit softer of a look to it. It’s one of those things that we just keep. We keep a couple of yards of this just in our lighting bag in case we need it and then when we do, we just cut off a piece, use gaffer tape or a A-clamp to just clamp it to whatever you need.
Okay, take that back, you. This is a scrim. Why don’t you hand me the other one too, the other 5-in-1 reflector? Yeah, don’t throw it on my head, please. That would be a little painful. This is a Westcott 5-in-1 scrim, or sorry, 5-in-1 reflector, but why is it called a 5-in-1? Because it does a bunch of different things. Look at this, I can actually reflect light into your faces. How you all like that? I don’t even know if it’s making a difference or not, whatever. We have a silver side and we have black side. The black side actually has a purpose. This is a flag. We use this to block light.
On the inside, we have a scrim. We have a gold side and also a white side. The inside is this scrim item. Why don’t you take this guy back? What does the scrim look like? Well, it looks surprisingly like that diffusion cloth that you guys just saw, but this is a slightly larger reflector. This is, I believe the Fotodiox and it’s like a 48 or 60-inch reflector. It’s taller and it’s longer, which is another really cool option to go with. The Westcotts, they’re like 30, 40 bucks. You can also get them in different sizes. You also have Fotodiox. These are larger and these come in … I think these are like 60 bucks for these variants.
There’s plenty of variants. Our favorite brand of reflectors, everybody in kind of these light modifying items is Wescott, just because they are inexpensive and they stand up to time. A lot of these other reflectors, especially the inexpensive made ones, their little rings, the metal rings on the outside tend to break, which is very irritating. Also, the zippers are very difficult to zip up and to close around your object.
This guy also has a 5-in-1. It has the silver side. It has everything, but this is just a different variant of it. Why do we say to have that diffusion cloth? Because you can shape that to be whatever you want it to be. We’ve done entire shoots that we’re going to show in Lighting 401, where basically, and guys, please show them the shoot so that they can see it. We have an entire giant piece of diffusion cloth with multiple flashes placed behind and we’re creating a huge reflector essentially with that and we’re flashing through it. We’re softening to create a huge light source basically.
All right, let me roll this over to you. Look at that. Let’s show them now the DIY V-flat. Why don’t you just hand me instead of the V-flat, just hand me the front cardboard right there. Yeah, that’s great. A V-flat is a little bit too large to hold at my hands right here and it’s going to be out of range. This is basically what a V-flat is made of. You can go to your local camera and pick up this stuff. This is a foam core that has white on one side and it has black on the other. A V-flat is a fantastic light modifier you can get for about 20 bucks. You simply cut down the middle and then tape it. What you can do is stand it up anywhere inside the studio.
Generally when you’re on set shooting, a V-flat needs to be held because they’re kind of giant sails and the wind will blow them over and so forth, but they’re fantastic to either flag to cut off light or to reflect and bounce light. They’re amazing modifiers of that, very inexpensive as well. Why don’t you take that guy and let’s grab the Wescott 43-inch? I have it right here. Don’t worry, your pretty little beard about it. This is a shoot-through umbrella and this is the Westcott shoot-through. Again, great items.
The thing with light modifiers like this, the Westcott is already very inexpensive. This 43-inch umbrella is 20 bucks. What we look for in these kind of products is making sure that the skeleton basically, this little framing part of the umbrella is something that will hold up over time. With inexpensive umbrellas, yes, you can get them as cheap as 10 bucks, but you’re going to buy them every six months because they’re going to break and they’re going to have issues. Just get something that’s actually a decent quality. It’s already cheap, everybody at 20 bucks. It’s already inexpensive. Just get the legit one.
With this, we can basically place this through an umbrella. Let’s show them actually. Why don’t you hand me that stand that we had just a second ago? You can place this through the umbrella mount on any of your stands. We have those adapter mounts that go on to your stand. Yeah, there’s that guy right there. Prolific. Yeah, don’t throw that at me either because that’d be really painful. It goes right here in the adapter stand. You could place the flash right on top of it to shoot through this, or there’s also a black side of this or a reflective side that you can add here where it will act as a bounce, so the light will come back, but a shoot-through umbrella is incredibly inexpensive.
The way that they break down, look at this, you can break this entire thing down, your light modifier and everything, and fit them together in a bag so simply and so easily. It makes it very useful of a device. Let me give this guy back to you and let’s show you my next favorite light modifiers. I’m going to grab both these right here. One is the Westscott Apollo and one is the Westcott Apollo Strip. One is the Apollo Orb and one is the Apollo Strip. I hope I don’t drop anything right now.
Here’s these guys. Actually, why don’t you hold one of these? Because this is gigantic. They look like umbrellas, right? They’re slightly longer, slightly larger than umbrellas, but in reality, they are not just umbrellas. These guys are soft boxes, extremely portable soft boxes. We’ll show you how to kind of use these as we go on at different shoots, but when you set this up, it becomes a giant basically parabolic softbox. This is like a large octa or a large parabolic softbox. You place the flash stand up through this little hole in the middle and then you zip it up to make sure your light doesn’t spill out. You aim the flashes into the back of this. You can use like a bracket, like a Cheetah bracket or a Westcott bracket that have three flashes and they can all fire in this, and you have a beautiful soft light.
You can also add grids onto the outside. You can add a reflector on the outside and so forth. Sorry, a scrim or a diffuser. This is the orb and this is the Apollo Strip. I actually like using like for inside, on-location studio shoots that we go indoors, I really like the Apollo Orb. I do it outdoors too, but this guy is kind of my go-to engagement session softbox, because it’s smaller. This is the Apollo Strip, so you can kind of see, we have the same kind of devices where we stand the flash stand up through the bottom middle. We can put our hand into the right to make adjustments to the flashes if you’re shooting manual flashes, but this is where we talk about.
If you’re on a radio-controlled system where you can control the radios from your handheld device, that’s fantastic. If you can control the power on your flashes from your radio on your camera, that means that you don’t have to constantly be going in this to just adjust flash power. You can set this up, be good to go and just adjust power from your camera. This is another fantastic advice. When you’re done with it, again, it breaks down to the size of just an umbrella. Another amazing product from Westcott.
That’s the Apollo Orb, the Apollo Strip. We forgot one little guy right there which is the Westcott Rapid Box. Let’s grab the Rapid Box. Actually, it’s right there. It’s underneath me. Would you mind, sir? Would you mind getting that guy? How nice is Logan. Thank you my bearded friend. All right, check this guy out. This fits into this small of a little soft box right here and we have an adapter ring on here too. Holy crap, that was loud. Should we do that part again? No, just keep rolling with it. Just keep rolling with it.
All right, let’s throw our guy down there. Do you want to grab that for me real quick? How do this thing work? Hey, I’ve been looking for this. I put it inside there. What we have here is we have a little wing nut that’s on this little rod in the center, but basically, this is a super portable octa box. We just place this, so you can see when it breaks down, it’s like this. It looks really tiny and small and then you plop that little … I said plop. You pump that little circular thing over the end … or whatever. Who cares what they’re called, little spigot, and then you pump this dish right over the front of it. This dish is basically designed, so if I open this up to you guys, you can see.
I’m just going to put this dish right over that and then put the wing nut right on there. That would be the end of the wing nut and not the front of it. Okay. Good enough for now. Then you have your little bracket on this side. Let me pop this on here. When you’re on set, like it’s very, very simple and easy to do these setups. You can take these in their broken down format or size or whatever, and then just get them on to your set and be up and good to go within just a matter of minutes, which I love because they make them so easy and portable. All I’m doing right now is just screwing on this bracket. Everything is via thumb screws so they’re very easy to set up.
Now, guess what? We have that mount that we can place on to our monopod or whatever we want to place onto a stand, whatever you need. We can set that up. We can put our flash right here on the bracket, fire through there which bounces off that little dish, this reflector dish and it opens up the light, takes up the whole thing and then we can place the diffuser over the front of it as well to get an even softer light if we need. This is the Rapid Box, very small, very portable. Another fantastic light modifier by Westcott.
Each one of these, let’s say the Rapid Box was 170 bucks, the Apollo Orb is 150 bucks and the Strip is 130 bucks. They do come with their diffusers, but if you want the grids along with them for the Apollo Orb and the Apollo Strip, it’s like an extra 50, 60 bucks for the grids. Now, the 3-foot RFi Octa and 2 by 3 RFi Soft Box, they’re a little bit large to basically be demonstrating to you on this set, but they go over this RFi Speed Ring, which again, we can mount to our monopod. We’ll show you what they look like on actual production sets and so forth.
You just take the rods, pop them in here. It takes about 5 minutes to set up, If you’re new to it, expect it to take 10 minutes, but once you get used to it, they’re 5 minutes to set up and break down and so forth, very simple and easy to use. These are our preferred soft boxes. When we’re using larger strobes like say, the medium strobes like The Bolt, because we can place them on here and set them all the way inside of this bracket. It’s very easy to get them in there and get them in the right position where we’re using all of the light and we don’t have anything spilling out the back, whereas if you try and put a bolt on like a Westcott, they’re not designed for that large of a strobe, so getting them into position is a little bit difficult and you will get light spill.
Let’s go back with this guy. Let me show you some smaller items. These were our diffusion and bounce items. These are our soft box items. These are the ultra portable soft boxes. These are the high power soft boxes, which is the RFi. Now, we have our control and our creative modifiers. On this side, we have the XP Portaflex Snoot. Now, can you make your own snoot? Absolutely. You need to buy one. This is 10 bucks. They’ve very inexpensive. A DIY snoot, you can grab a cereal box and make it out of that, whatever you want to do. I don’t really care, but these are 10 bucks. They fold up. They’re very easy to store and they actually have like reflective material on the inside so you’re not getting a lot of light loss. They’re super easy to take around and they’re actually durable.
If you’re going to be using snoots a lot, it might be worth just paying the 10 bucks to get one of these guys, but they’re going to throw your light a longer distance and this is what a snoot would like for say, like The Bolt. The Bolt VB-22 has snoots and this is what it would appear like. Again, all these do, remember from Lighting 101, all a snoot does is just funnels that light and it pins it to one specific area, very useful, very handy dandy. I find myself using grids a little bit more than snoots, but snoots are still fantastic when you want to put a splash of light just on one little thing. That is our snoot.
Here, we have a couple different versions of grids. Let me show you. We have the Vello Grid and we’ve got this guy. This is just going to mount via Velcro right over the flash. You just mount it like this. It goes directly with the flash in it. Not the most elegant of solutions, a lot of people hate Velcro. I would be one of them, but I still use it a ton on my shoots. Again, this just prevents light from spilling out. Again, Lighting 101, we talked extensively about what a grid does. It prevents light from spilling onto things that you do not want to cover.
The more elegant solution to this is actually MagMod, which I actually like much, much more. If it’s in the budget, I would grab the MagMod. You just place this little rubber, this rubber head thingy. I don’t know what it is, the rubber MagMod thingy, over the flash head. Once it’s in position, you can place whatever you want. You can actually use the … Here’s the MagMod grid. You can place that right here and it just automatically, magnetically adheres to the head. You can also place like your gels over that as well. The MagMod is a very elegant solution to kind of this old school problem of just using these Velcro items, which I dig.
That is the Vello Grid as well as the MagMod grid and gel system, and we use gels frequently. If you guys don’t want to use MagMod gels, then DIY gels like this guy, you can buy a giant sheet of this stuff for like 5, 10 bucks, cut them out in little squares. Again, we’ll use Velcro on each side to adhere it to the flash. That’s a totally viable option. We do both. Honestly, like any one of these solutions will get you to the exact same image. It’s just a matter of figuring out what your preferences are overtime.
Let’s show them one other thing. I want to show them the Apollo Grid right. I almost fell off my chair. That would have been bad. Well, it wouldn’t have been that bad. I’m only like 3 feet off the ground. Am I 3 feet off the ground? I don’t know. This is the grid for the Apollo Strip. As we start using larger modifiers, like our grids and all of our other items get larger too. This is the grid for that strip box and you basically just adhere this to the outside of the strip box once it’s set up.
Here is the grid for just a variable speed light and here is the grid for a strip box. All we’re dealing with is the exact same kind of items, just larger scale versions of them. Let’s show them now some DIY gobos actually. Why don’t you grab that black peg board right there? DIY gobos are something that we’re going to use constantly throughout this series and throughout going forward, because they’re fantastic light modifiers because they create really cool little effects.
This is just a simple peg board that we picked up from Home Depot and we’re going to use it later for a kind of fine art boudoir shoot when we do that shoot to kind of create this look where we fire these flashes through the peg board and it’s going to create like this dappled light on our subject. It looks really, really cool and they’re very, very inexpensive too. I can’t remember what these … What are these, like 20 bucks? 20 bucks, something like that and then we painted them black. We have master painter over here, Logan, who did a fantastic job with just spray cans spray painting this thing.
We painted them black. Why? Because we don’t want light reflecting off them. Whenever you create like a DIY gobo or something like that, you generally want at least one side black so that way, when you shoot into it, it doesn’t push light everywhere else. It doesn’t bounce light everywhere else. You want to use it for control. One side white, one side black is generally the ideal thing so that where you have both options. Let’s go ahead and show them that other one. Let’s show them that slotted one. Yeah, that guy.
This is another DIY gobo. We made this out of, again, that same foam core that you pick up from the camera shop. What did we do? We just drew lines across this and we cut it out with a razor blade. What are we doing with this? We’re creating kind of that slotted window look, where like when you have light coming through a window with like the little … I don’t know what are those, probably like the window blinds, this is kind of creating that look. We shoot through it to create those lines going across our subject and it looks fantastic. You’ll see us do it on a shoot as well.
These are all very inexpensive ways of adding fantastic production value to your shoots. Let’s go ahead and show them one other one. This is right here, we’re going to demonstrate … Actually, we didn’t mention Mylar here, but you can get Mylar blankets or you can get aluminum, whatever you want, but Mylar blankets, I find generally work a little better. You can get those for like 5, 10 bucks at Home Depot. You cut them up and you paste them onto like a blackboard like this. What do we do with this? We bounce, we throw light into this and it bounces light back off of it in kind of a random pattern, and so we can put that light onto a wall that create like a really cool background for that wall effect.
Again, just another idea of a DIY kind of gobo where we can throw light onto this and then bounce it back and get a cool effect or a cool pattern on on our set. By the way, did I say what a gobo was? I don’t know if I even said what a gobo was. A gobo is a go between object, so now you know, gobo. That’s really it for our ultra portable off-camera flash modifiers. Now, remember that when it comes to modifiers, you don’t need to buy everything. The last thing I want to leave you with is just remember that from Lighting 101, we taught you how all these modifiers work, how whites work versus silvers, how diffuse versus specular, how large versus small light sources and so forth will create a soft versus a hard light.
You understand the principles of light, so that means that you don’t need to go out and just buy everything and test it all out. You can kind of look at a modifier and just guess. Well, if it’s large and it’s white, it’s going to give me a soft and diffused light. If it’s small and silver, it’s going to give me a hard and specular light. If it’s somewhere in between, you can kind of guess what it’s going to be similar to, so do that. When you guys are going out and you’re looking for new pieces of modifiers, make sure that you’re actually thinking through your head, “What will this do and how will this add to my arsenal?”
If buying this little Westcott Rapid Box is going to be almost identical to a beauty dish that you’re already using, then that might not be the right fit for you if it already matches in looks, unless you just need the extra portability. Look at those modifiers, analyze them, study them in your mind. It’ll better help you to not only waste your money, but to figure out which modifier is actually going to add to your toolkit rather than just be another kind of duplicate in your toolkit.