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Follow-up to Portrait Shoot, Feb 7, 2011, Program

Below is an image that the DIY website permits people to download. They call it the Lighting Modifiers Cheat Sheet.

Top row: Images made with a tool called a Softbox. This is a big box that you put an off-camera light inside of. The flash goes through a large white silk/polyester sheet that is facing the subject. This provides a large fairly even light source. Given for each image are the dimensions of each Softbox.

Second row: Shows the results of using an Umbrella. You mount the off-camera light onto the stand so that the light shoots into the umbrella, rather than straight at the subject. Umbrellas can have white, silver, or colored fabrics that modify the intensity, quality (harsh to soft), and color of the light that the umbrella throws onto the subject.

Third row: Restricted light. This means controlling the light so it goes only in the direction you want and doesn't spill all over the place.

  • Snoot (2nd image): Looks like a cone or funnel and directs the light to a specific small area of the subject.

  • Gridded Snoot (1st image): The Snoot contains a grid of squares that further restricts the light.

  • Barn Doors: This fits around the light and has "doors" on both sides and top and bottom. Each "door" moves independently to shape the light to go to a specific area of the subject.

  • Grid: Openings are square shaped and restrict the light to straight lines. Comes in several sizes. Directs/focuses the light straight at the subject and doesn't allow spillage to any side.

Bottom row: These images were made with various tools.

  • Reflector: can be white or silvery (foil) or gold (foil). We used them during our portrait shoot on Feb 7, 2011, to bounce the light from the window back onto the shadowed side of the face.

  • V-card: Two reflector sheets put together like a V.

  • Beauty Dish: Like a small round Softbox. It is used mostly to add an area of soft light to the subject, or sometimes behind the subject as a rim or side light.

  • 28" Apollo Dish: This is a 28" square dish, similar to a Beauty Dish, except its white fabric is recessed, so has several inches of black fabric on all sides sticking out in front of the white fabric.

Click on image to see larger size.


You may be interested in reading the full article on the webpage above. The background for all these images was a white drop cloth. Notice that in some images, the background looks black or almost-black. This is due to the way the Light Modifiers restricted the light, plus the aperture (size of lens opening) selected combined with certain shutter speeds.

You can play around with modifying the light output from your own camera's flash. Try holding a piece of tissue or a cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper in front of the flash and see what happens. Remember, if the camera insists on popping up the flash and this makes the image too bright and you can't reduce its output, then you can also just block the flash with your fingers, like we did during our shoot.

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The DIY Yourself website also features what they call the Strip-Light Cheat Sheet. I've quoted from this page, but you may want to read the whole article, as it shows how you can modify a flash gun into a strip light by using a cookie (Fig Newton) box and some white foam board or cardboard and some tape.

"The card shows three positions of two strip lights. The first raw shows the angle of the light strips. The black shape (yea, those are 'V' and 'H') shows the angle of the strip light and the gray circle (yes, it is a dot) shows the position of the model.

"In the first position, the two strip lights are positioned right and left, 45 degrees off axis.

"The second position shows the light when the two lights are positioned right and left of the subject.

"The third and last position is from when the strip lights are positioned 135 degrees to camera axis - that is slightly behind the subject.

"Those three settings should give a pretty good idea on how strip lights work when positioned vertically."

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