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While some photographers will tell you to take the flash out of your camera’s hot shoe, others love using it in that position. No matter what you’re doing, the only thing that matters is making sure that the light looks beautiful. This can be done with the flash on the camera or off ot it and the way to do it is usually with a flash modifier of some sort. But there are also a couple of tips and tricks that you can use to make it look even better.

Here are some of the best flash modifiers for your speedlights (speedlites) along with some tips on how to use them.


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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Impact Quikbox and LiteTrek photos (8 of 17)ISO 200

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One of the greatest things that you can accomplish technically as a photographer is shooting with a flash during bright daylight and nailing exposure perfectly. If you’re doing this, then chances are that you’ll use a TTL lighting functionality or high speed sync or even making sure that your flash duration is just at a fast setting. But even this can become tedious and frustrating for the best of photographers–especially when using light modifiers like softboxes.

The best approach to a situation like this is to use spot metering on your camera. When you switch to spot metering you can figure out what the exposure is for the ambient/natural light and the flash/strobe output. Spot metering literally meters off of the area that you’re choosing. It ignores things like tying to make the entire scene completely balanced in terms of exposures and works well because it helps you make a more informed decision about what to do with your artificial light.

So where do you begin?

– Set your camera to spot metering mode and meter your subject’s face (providing that you’re shooting a portrait)

– Meter your camera accordingly.

– Use a handheld light meter to judge what aperture you should be shooting at if you’re using a light without TTL. Otherwise, set your aperture to whatever you want and the flash will meter itself hopefully. If it doesn’t then switch to manual mode and do the same method as when using a handheld light meter.

As an extra tip, set your handheld light meter to the fastest shutter speed so that it doesn’t see the ambient light and doesn’t try to work along with it.

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When shooting portraits of someone and using a flash or studio strobe, there is a big secret to getting more details and extra beauty out of the shot. It first starts with specular highlights–which are extra details that are brought out by adding in extra light to a scene. But sometimes specular highlights render something even better: catchlights. Catchlights are usually associated with what you see in the eyes–and they have to do with a reflection of the light usually on the irises. What the catchlights look like vary depending on the light modifier. However, it is generally accepted that umbrellas, octabanks, and ring flashes often deliver the best catchlights in the eyes.

Getting them is fairly simple: simply place the light and light modifier in front of your subject and shoot. But in general, the rule also states that the bigger the light modifier and the closer it is to your subject, the better the catchlights will be. So to get better catchlights, we encourage you to first use a really large light modifier then place it close to your subject. Make sure that the light is in front of them and a little bit above them while facing downward. As an extra tip, we recommend also not moving the light modifier anywhere beyond a 45 degree angle of the subject while they’re facing the camera.

Then just shoot. For the absolute best results, set your flash’s power output to a setting that lets you shoot just slightly stopped down with the eyes in focus.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer NYCC New York Comic Con 2013 exports (26 of 84)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 5.0

There are some lighting modifiers that we really like, and then there are others that often blow us away and that we never want to send back. These modifiers often combine versatility, a specific look that’s done perfectly, and ease of use. But of course, they also just need to work very well.

Here’s a round up of some of our favorites.

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maggripp_large

When I heard about the MagMod, it piqued my interest. Originally announced on Kickstarter, the project is already well past it’s goal on Kickstarter and rightfully so. The Magmod is a magnetic flash modifier which eliminates velcro, straps and adhesives. The Modifiers are made from a single piece of silicone rubber and it’s one size fits all. They say it works with anything from the Nikon SB600 or an old Sunpack Auto30DX to the the Canon 600EX and Nikon SB900. The MagMod comes with a modular flexible honeycomb grid and a MagGel kit.

More details are after the jump.

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Not long ago, Profoto teased new light modifiers on their blog. And today, they’re announcing their new RFi softboxes. RF stands for recessed front while the “i” stands for improved; and the overall design of the boxes is designed to send the light forward vs to the sides. Lighting specialists call this directional quality; and if used right way, it sounds like these could potentially mimic the look of a real parabolic umbrella that allows you to adjust the light throw. Softboxes are already very directional and make very efficient use of light; so it will be interesting to see just how much more Profoto can hack the laws of physics. The softboxes can come with a soft strip, flat front diffuser, or soft grid. Another new addition is the fact that the speedrings are color coded for easier use and organization in the studio.

Lastly, every unit is hand-sewn. More information is after the jump.

 

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