Light Modifiers

Reflector domes

These are short tapered metal fittings to fit on the front of the studio light and come as a standard accessory with the studio light. They protect the flash tube from damage and distribute light evenly.

Softboxes

Softboxes come in many shapes and sizes and provide the studio photographer with controlled and uniform lighting. They consist of a frame made of spring steel covered by material that is black on the outside and silver on the inside. The light then exits through a white diffusion panel in the front. They come in a range of shapes from standard rectangular or square or octagonal. They are double diffused and produce softer lighting than other lighting accessories.

Umbrellas

There are two different types of brollies, reflective and shoot through. With translucent brollies, the light is shone through the umbrella and softens the light. With reflective brollies, the flash is aimed at the centre of the frame and the light reflects off the white, silver or gold curved material on the inside of the umbrella. Umbrellas are cheaper and easy to transport and set up. The light produced by umbrellas is fairly directional but softer than using no fitting at all. They are however difficult to control and produce spills, if you are using too much light with them you can wash out some elements in your photo.

  1. Silver – Reflects the most amount of light and doesn’t change the colour of the light hitting the subject
  2. Gold-Reflects a warm colour and matches the colour of sunlight. If not applied correctly it might leave the subject with an overly yellow look. 
  3. White (Black on the outside) – Bouncing minimal light but is a bit more directional than the shoot through brolly. Also used as a gobo. 
  4. White shoot through (translucent) – To diffuse the light but unlike a softbox a lot of light is spilt and the light is not controlled and directional.

Softbox Umbrella

The Brolly box combines the quick assembly of the umbrella with some of the advantages of a softbox. A typical brolly box will have an outer white lining for shoot through with an inner black lining that fits around the studio flash unit. The brolly box contains and eliminates spills and if used correctly it can produce results similar to softboxes. However, they offer less diffusion and cannot handle as much lighting

Snoots

Snoots are conical metal fittings to the front of the light. Snoots concentrate the light on a particular area. They are used to emphasize a centre of interest or to create a rim light to separate the subject from the background. These are usually used for hair lights. You can stick a small honeycomb grid over the snoot to tighten up the cone of light thrown by the snoot and also make the light more specular. Used with coloured gels.

Barndoors

Barndoors are flat steel sheets mounted to a circular rim that can fold in and are used to restrict the direction of the light. Barndoors alter the shape, intensity, and colour of the light from the flash head. Using barndoors will result in a shaft of light the size of which can be determined by the opening of the steel sheets.

Honeycombs

Honeycombs are circular in shape and fit against the front of the standard reflector. They are made up of a pattern of hexagonal openings through which the light passes. They reduce the scattered light and only allow light through that is travelling in a straight line thus creating directional lighting that can be used for commercial fashion and portrait photography.

Beauty dish

A beauty dish uses a parabolic reflector to distribute light towards a focal point. The light created is between that of a direct flash and a softbox, hence giving the image a wrapped, contrasted look, which adds a very dramatic effect.

The Gridbox

This is a fabric grid that Velcros over the front of your strip bank of a softbox. A gridbox narrowly focuses the light so that it doesn’t spill out the sides of your softbox, thus making the light more directional and focuses your light where you need it.

Reflectors

Reflectors are really too general-purpose to be called “studio equipment” but they are essential studio items and, if cleverly used, can eliminate the need for additional strobe heads.

  1. Silver – Reflects the most amount of light and doesn’t change the colour of the light hitting the subject
  2. Gold-Reflects a warm colour and matches the colour of sunlight. If not applied correctly it might leave the subject with an overly yellow look.
  3. Black – Absorbs light, used to cut reflections or to block light.
  4. White – Bouncing minimal light
  5. White translucent – To diffuse studio lights or the sun.

The most important word in studio light control is “gobo”. Short for “go-between” and refers to anything that you stick in between the light and the subject to cast a shadow, diffuse the light, or whatever.

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