Photography News Issue 36

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Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com

Technique

Modifiers and accessories Where lighting really starts to get creative is in modifying the output of the flash. This can be done in a huge variety of ways, and lights can (and probably should) be modified in some way, whether you’re using a speedlight or a large studio-style version. The type of modifier you use shapes the light, either spreading out, softening, colouring or directing it onto specific parts of the subject or scene.

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design means that the light from the flash hits the smaller disc then reflects from it onto the larger one, before reaching the subject. The added level of reflection and the fact that the light is more directed than a softbox means that it produces distinct, but very soft shadows and can be used close to the subject without running the risk of overexposing them. reflectors; basically a reflective dish that fits onto the flash to direct the light. They come in different widths, which offer a varying throw of light. A snoot is a tube-like or conical design that channels the light into a small area, so it’s a great modifier if you want a spotlight effect, or to add light in specific areas such as to the subject’s eyes or hair. They can also be used to create a pool of light on a background and tend to be measured in terms of the angle of light that they produce; 30° or 10°, etc. 7 Snoots and spill-kill reflectors Many flash kits come with spill-kill

brighten shadow areas, or set on the opposite side of the subject to the sun, giving the same effect. Reflectors are available in different colours and finishes and most are double-sided so you have the option. Popular colours are white, silver, and gold.

Softbox Softboxes are diffusing modifiers. They

is used and the light is channelled, its strength will likely increase a little, so some care needs to be taken in exposure.

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can be square, rectangular or more rounded in design, but the most important thing is how they spread out the light to soften it and reduce the intensity of shadows. Most flash kits come with softboxes or umbrellas as these diffusers can quickly give very flattering results. The light through a softbox has a more directional look than via an umbrella but it’s still very soft. The larger the softbox, the more diffused the light will tend to be, but you need more flash power to correctly expose the subject.

Flashmeter Judging the amount of flash power

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required to correctly expose the subject can be tricky, especially as the output level depends on lots of factors; which modifiers are used; the angle of the light; and the light’s distance from the subject. You can judge the light using your screen and histogram, but a flashmeter takes out the guesswork. Holding it near the subject and test firing the flash, the meter will let you know what power to set to avoid making the subject too bright or too dark.

Umbrella or brolly Umbrellas are diffusing modifiers. The

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curved shape of an umbrella means that the light can be thrown over a wide area and the greater the spread of light the softer shadows will be. Umbrellas come in two main forms; bounce and shoot-through. In bounce umbrellas, the light is pointed into the umbrella’s inside and reflects onto the subject. In shoot-through umbrellas, light is fired through white translucent material.

Grids and honeycombs Grids and honeycombs can be fitted to

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most types of modifier and they’re used to restrict the light and harden its look. So, if you’re already using a snoot or spill kill, and add a grid, the spread of light will reduce. Grids can also be used on softboxes to direct the soft light, for example if it’s falling too much on a background. When a grid

Reflector A reflector (as opposed to a spill-kill

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Beauty dish A beauty dish looks like a very wide

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reflector) is a white or metallic surface used to adapt the light by bouncing it onto the subject. For instance it can be used with a single light to

reflector, but crucially the design also includes a disc or deflector covering the flash tube. The

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