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light modifier

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer New York Comic Con 2012 Photos (6 of 33)ISO 200

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Wrap around light: what this means is light that literally wraps around a subject and gives the illusion of two lights. Traditionally, photographers needed two or more lights to do it, but the effect can be created in camera with one light.

There are two components to this: One massive light modifier in relation to the subject and and one light.

First off, face your subject and place the light (inside the light modifier) in front of your subject and slightly above the camera. Angle the light modifier to be flat against the subject though you can also place it a bit higher and angled downward a bit.

How big of a modifier are we talking? Generally it should be larger than your subject. If you’re photographing a mango as a still life, then a 24 inch softbox or some sort should be more than enough. If you’re photographing a person, then you’ll need something like a six or seven foot umbrella or softbox.

Then what you’ll need to do is meter the subject for the flash/strobe output and then meter accordingly on your camera to the ambient light. When you’ve metered for the ambient, underexpose by around 2/3rds of a stop.

If the shutter speed is too slow for you to handhold, use a tripod or crank up the ISO and re-meter for the flash output.

If you don’t want to raise the ISO any higher, then what you’re going to need to do is use a tripod to avoid any camera shake.

When a flash and strobe are involved in the creation of an exposure, the flash output exposure is dictated by the aperture while the ambient light is dictated by the shutter speed. ISO controls the overall sensitivity of the scene.

As long as your positioning of the light covers and wraps around the subject and the ambient light is accordingly exposed for you’ll be able to create a beautiful wrap around light effect.

The other alternative: Place the light on one side of a subject and then place the subject by a wall and have the light bounce off the wall and fill in the other side of the person. The wall will act like a natural reflector.

Model: Erica Lourde

Model: Erica Lourde

Almost every portrait photographer will tell you to always focus on the eyes no matter what. Though we situationally disagree, they generally have a point about focusing on a portrait subject’s eyes and that they can be the most gripping and personable part of the image. With a couple of tweaks that you can do even before you start the editing stage, you can make the eyes even more enthralling.

So how do you do this? It’s all about your light modifier, light positioning, composition, and aperture choice.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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