Last week I ordered some new light modifiers so today I thought we would take a look at them, both at what kind of application they have and what kind of result they give you.
The lady to the left is my mother, whom I forced to model for me when she visited this weekend. Unfortunately she proved to be almost as bad a model as my daughter; sigh, I wish I had some more professional people to work with. I didn’t get many shots but at least this one wasn’t a complete failure. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let us first introduce the new players: the Honl grid and the Lumiquest Softbox III.
Let’s start with the Honl grid. I actually got two of them, one of each size. Now, the people who read this blog may already know that I’ve built my own grid spot from some straws and a cereal box. It works, there’s nothing wrong with it, not really, but it’s too tight for most things I want to use it for. I guess I could build some more with different sizes but the thing with the Honl grids is that they’ll withstand some pretty heavy abuse – if I packed my straw grid for a longer trip, I’ve got the feeling that it would come out looking rather flat.
In this shot I used the larger grid for the background light (I know, I still haven’t done anything about the wrinkles on the sheet I use for background…procrastination, you know how it is). It’s a lot better than just using a bare flash, I really like the smooth falloff at the edges, exactly what I want for the background. That’s going to be one of the main applications for this grid: background light. It also have lots of other applications for whenever you want a restricted light with a nice, smooth falloff. I’m definitely happy with the result it produces.
Now for the main attraction: the Lumiquest Softbox III. The main reason for getting this softbox was portability. I like my umbrellas, they give good light, but they’re not something I would want attached to my flash when I’m out walking around. In the above shot my wife was acting VAL and held the softbox above and slightly to the front and right. Actually an umbrella would have been better, it would have eliminated that shadow under the nose for one thing, but this was a test of my new toys to see what they could do. I think it does quite a good job. Up close like this the light is quite soft. With a bare flash we would get rather horrible highlights on the forehead. We still get some of that but it’s controlled pretty well, due to the double diffused center of the softbox.
Above you can see another test shot, this time just a quick snap of Alyzza. Here the light is even closer to the subject and as a result it’s very soft and nice. I can see how this will be useful when hunting the little one with the camera without posing her. I’m just hand holding the flash to camera left in this shot so it’s definitely very portable and easy to work with, while still giving good results. Another aspect that’s useful with a modifier like this is that it’s quite easy to avoid unwanted spill light, something that can be tricky with an umbrella. In the shot of Alyzza you can see that there’s virtually no light falling on the background – that’s because the light is so close and doesn’t use much power so the falloff happens very quickly.
There you have it, a first look at some new toys. So far I can certainly recommend them if you’ve been thinking about getting any of them. If you realize their limitations you can get very satisfying results and if you’re looking for soft light in a portable format, I don’t think you can do much better than the Lumiquest. We’ll be looking at some more tests in my next post so stay tuned.