Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flash Modifiers

This is what I've been doing lately, besides yardwork

Last week I built a new grid for my main flash.
My last one was a great first attempt, but over time I found that the straws I had used to focus the flash into a smaller circle (instead of blasting the whole room) were too long, resulting in too much of a good thing by far. Full-choked light wasn't as useful sometimes, so I wanted a wider pattern.
I had my brother run it through his bandsaw to shorten the whole thing, and it pretty much exploded into tiny pieces all over the driveway. This was a surprise, since the same modification had worked fairly well on a grid for my smaller accent flashes.
I made a new one with 1/2" straws (vs 1") and it works much better for me. Also used balsa wood instead of frame mat-board since it's much easier to cut and sand, saving mucho time in construction. Balsa is fragile, but in this box form with all the straws filling space (and glued together) it's very strong, yet light.

I used the grid to light the main petunia and a minimum of surrounding foliage:
I like it when the light starts to dim just outside of the main subject, so surrounding items don't compete for attention. Grids are great for that.
In this case, after a few exposures I added my other two accent flashes to the foliage and white blooms to add some spice.

After that project got me back where I was before, I jumped right into the next one.

A softbox is a light modifier that, much like using a white umbrella with your flash, spreads the light out and therefore softens it. Shadows have less of a hard edge to them. Like the difference between direct sunlight and overcast.
Unlike umbrellas, there isn't any stray light spilling into the rest of your "studio", and they are also easier to get into difficult angles like straight up or down.
I started by going through my stockpile of old microphone stands and booms and came up with the perfect setup.
Then I found a sheet of new black foamcore for a dollar.
Cutcutcut, glueglueglue.
(Using a self-healing cutting mat really helps--Thanks Lisa!)

The inside walls are reflective (using foil) and for now I have some material from a white linen napkin to spread the light:
As with all of my DIY light modifiers, this has a good friction-fit when mounted to the flash.
No velcro or rubber bands for me, if I can help it.

Finally found some feeder mice locally today, so Candy got to come out of her habitat and socialize before dinner:
The softbox was around 15" away, and you can hopefully see how all of the "specular highlights" ( = relections of the light source) are long and smooth instead of being pinpoints of over-bright ugliness like you can get with bare naked flash.

I used a 2nd flash unit behind a blue gel to hit the wall behind this scene, and appreciated the quick artistic freedom that small flashes can furnish when I decided to make the right side fade a bit darker.

Candy was her usual twisty/grabby/snakey self, so I ended up having to partially disassemble the 8-string bass's stand to pry her loose.
I should have been ready for this, since right before her last feeding she somehow managed to get Sylvia's car keys stuck on her tail.

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