Field Review: The Gary Fong Lightsphere on a Photo Shoot

So far, I posted a test photo with the Gary Fong Lightsphere that I found awesome. It represents one of the first times I’ve used flash consistently well as I’m a trained natural light photographer. Yesterday I met up with Mark, a jazz/classical musician to do a photoshoot for his new album that will be coming out. Details of the shoot after the jump.

Author’s Note: If you’re going to use the photos posted here on this blog, please link back.

The Job

What Mark was looking for is a black and white photo of him in Central Park as it proves to be a great location for shoots here in NYC. The theme he wanted was something to represent a canyon look and being in complete awe as well as caught up in the moment. The shoot took place around 10AM in Central Park. It was around 22 degrees outside, and flurries were coming down. It was bright and sunny and the entire shoot was done shooting into the sun for the most part.

Oh, and it was by the lake. Brrrr!!!!!!

Mark was getting copies of all the photos I shot as well as photos that we sat down together and edited on my Macbook. He was so happy and very impressed with the quality of work. Mark was a great model to work with, very friendly, and good looking. Photographers dream of working with people like that.


The job called for my Canon 5D Mk II, 24-105mm F4 L IS, 430 EX II, Gary Fong Lightsphere, and my Macbook.

The Gary Fong Lightsphere in Use

The Gary Fong Lightsphere allowed me to finally use flash to my desired results. Previously, I never liked the output I got from flash, even from other light diffusers. However, this time around the photos came out spectacular.

Attaching it to your flash is very easy to do as it comes with an adjustable belt to ensure that it stays on tightly. Plus, there is a rubber band to attach it to your flash for backup just in case it comes off.

Using a combination of manual flash with ETTL as well as shooting in Manual mode allowed me to get different degrees of really nice looking lighting that worked very effectively for the project. Additionally, I believe that using the Lightsphere helped to speed up the project because otherwise I would have had to overexpose and underexpose in order to get the images and look I need for the album.

Of course, there were times where I just used natural lighting and turned off the flash, but for the most part the Lightsphere dominated the photoshoot.

What’s great about it is the design. It looks like one of those vintage flashes from the old days of photojournalism when they carried around box cameras. But that designs works so well for this purpose because of the way it distributes light at your subject. It works amazingly when it comes to bouncing light off surfaces as well in order to add in just a little bit of extra light for certain effects.

My only complaint about the unit though is that while it is plastic, it feels a bit too weak. I’m sometimes afraid to put it in my messenger bag along with my laptop, 5D Mk II and lenses. Granted, a fair criticism of this can be that I should be using a camera bag of some sort. And while that is a justified point of view, I still have always preferred a messenger bag. Being a celebrity photographer has taught me that discreteness is always the best way to go.

Overall though, this little product has cemented me into the world of being a strobist and I’m now addicted. I’ve always loved to use off camera lighting, but the flash is now something I’m also beginning to love.

Who Is This For?

Photojournalists: If you use flash, then this is a nifty item to have on you just in case. Generally though, we’re trained not to use flash.

Wildlife Photographers: Not too sure about this one. Generally you don’t want to disturb the animals. Flash will scare away the critters.

Wedding Photographers: Yes. There are plenty of opportunities where this will come in handy at your next wedding.

Concert Photographers: If you use flash, then yes. It will help to preserve those nice colors that come from concerts.

Portrait Photographers: Yes, you really need this. That is all.

Sports Photographers: Not too sure about this one either, I’ve never seen a sports photographer really use one.

Enthustiasts: If you don’t use on-camera flash then sure, why not? It’s a fairly priced item.

Celebrity Photographers: For the moments when you’re using flash, get this as it will provide just enough fill flash to get a great shot. Generally though, I shot without flash and from a far distance when I used to do this. Your exclusives are important to you.

If you’ve tried this item, let us know about it in the comments below.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.