I am still on my quest to simplify setups and photo sessions. The one last week needed seven lights. Sometimes there isn’t much you can do about shoots like that, but overall I am really striving for more simplicity.
With that, just a few years ago I quite easily fell into the “if I only had that new or other modifier, all my photos would be better” trap. I now know that until you know exactly what modifier you want and why, don’t do it. What I have to show for thinking like that is a shelf of modifiers, each one needing to be carefully considered before the next assignment and that just complicates things even more. I also have some funky attachments that rarely if ever come off that shelf.
If I were to start over (and still a Canon shooter) I would build my lighting kit like this instead of the haphazard way it has grown:
- Start with a good flash first - one that will sit on or talk to the camera,
- “Speedliter’s Handbook” by Sly Arena,
- OFC Gear extra long, straight E-TTL cord, and
- a Stofen Omni-bounce.
I have made plenty of DIY light modifiers and still carry a couple with me every day. These will show up again later down the page.
I am actually considering two more light modifiers and to maybe see things a little more clearly, I decided to drag out a bunch of flash modifiers and compare them today. Below is a very non-scientific presentation of what happens to the light when a variety of modifiers are slapped on the front of a Canon 430 EX flash. (I used the 430 EX because more of the flash model specific modifiers are for that flash.) I kept the front of each modifier 3.5’ from the wall and tried to show at least part of the modifier in the images. All shots were using the Canon 40D, 24-105mm lens at ISO 200, f/8 and 1/100 sec. The 430 EX was set to manual, ¼ power and zoomed to 35mm. All of the resulting images were converted to B&W because I didn’t feel like white-balancing everything and I didn’t want the color to confuse the comparison. The big beauty dish is for my studio strobes so I just held it up to the flash and tried to block the light escaping out the back with my hands.
Below is each shot, organized in a way that made sense to me. Some might be surprised and others will say “knew that!”
No way am I going to suggest what modifier is best. They are all different and needed in different situations. I will say that the Stofen, LumiQuest and white art foam live in my daily camera bag. Some of the others come out when it is time and some need to find a new place to live. Am I going to add those others two I was thinking about? Probably not at this time. When a session is booked where I could really use them, then I might reconsider.