There are different ways to modify studio lights and adapt them to your shooting needs. In this video, Manny Ortiz compares three popular modifiers: a beauty dish, a softbox, and an umbrella. He uses all three in the studio to show you what to expect from them and how to use them to achieve a nice, flattering light.
In my newest video I compared the 6 different softbox options available from Cheetah.
This includes the Quick SoupBowl (QSB-26, QSB-34, QSB-42), Quick RiceBowl (QRB-36, QRB-48) and Max20.
Every day I see people posting in Facebook groups asking about softboxes and whether or not they should buy one with a grid. Personally, I always advise going for one that comes with a grid. Even if you don’t know why you might need it yet, if you get one without and then find out that you need one, it can often be impossible to source just the right size and shape.
But what exactly do grids do? And do you really need one? That’s what photographer David Bergman looks at in this two-minute video. He goes over what grids are for and when you might choose to use one. I have grids for all of my softboxes and octaboxes. I don’t always use them, but when I do need them, they’re absolutely invaluable.
When most portrait photographers want to create a directional soft light look, they break out the strobes. Then they usually stick a big octabox on the front of it. But what if you don’t have all that gear? How else can you get soft directional light? Well, you may be able to use the window in your bathroom.
In this video, Jay P Morgan shows us how we can get great soft directional light using only what enters through the bathroom window. Or whatever room in which you happen to be shooting. It’s a great technique if you don’t have flash gear and want to practise your portraits.
Most large modifiers come with two diffusers. A big one for the outer rim and a smaller one that fits between the source of light and the big diffuser, right in the middle of the modifier. Of course, this begs the question how may diffusion layers do you actually need.
There are plenty of fantastic DIY softbox solutions, but this one is definitely something I haven’t seen before. To make it, you’ll need an old bicycle wheel. It doesn’t only make a great softbox, but it looks really cool, too. So, if that old bicycle is just collecting dust in the garage, maybe it’s time to repurpose it. In this video, Prickly Sauce will show you how.
Mirrorless cameras and high-power speedlights have reduced the size of gear, just like they promised. But the softbox still remains the largest piece and takes up a lot of space. Vincent Palma and Vilhelm von Platen wanted to change this, so they created Sundisc. It’s a light, compact and ultra-portable reversible softbox that fits in your camera bag and that you can carry everywhere. You can attach it directly to your speedlight, and it also doubles as a reflector with both warm and cool light.
When it comes to setting up flash for a portrait, one might usually grab a big octabox or beauty dish. Normally, we wouldn’t consider something like a strip softbox. Strip softboxes are typically relegated to rim light duties. But they can also be extremely effective as a main light source.
In this Profoto Tiny Talk, photographer Neil van Niekerk talks us through how he uses his gridded strip softboxes for lighting portraits. He describes it as the most powerful tool he has both on location and in the studio. And, indeed, it is an extremely versatile modifier.
By now, you probably know that you should sandbag your gear. I mean, who would want their gear flying on their face when they talk about sand bags?
But sometimes the wind is just too fierce. Not only for a light stand but for any sort of modifier. In the movie below, German photographers Flash bros set out to shoot a portrait. Only the wind was a bit too strong even to hold a Profoto B1 500 TTL strobe with a small Profoto 2′ Octa. You can actually see how the wind drags both gear and assistant away.
Flash modifier comparisons can be extremely useful things. Without having to get up out of the comfort of our chair, we can very quickly and easily see how different shapes and sizes of modifier affect how light falls on our subject. Here’s one we discovered by photographer Michael Quack and the team at Visual Pursuit comparing a very wide array of Hensel modifiers.
Hensel modifiers aren’t exactly inexpensive, but if you want the best quality, you generally have to pay the highest prices. While you may not be specifically looking at buying Hensel gear, it’s still a useful comparison. With the subject, lights and photographer remaining the same for each shot, you can quickly get a feel for the differences that modifier design can make in your image.