Those who follow this blog should know that I’m always looking for portable solutions when it comes to light. I have neither the budget nor the space for big studio stuff. So today I can present the newest addition to my kit.
This is what I spent the money I made from selling my SB-400 on and, even though it’s something I’ve thought about for a while, it’s still something that I added on my to buy list fairly recently. I’m talking about a Lastolite Triflip 8 in 1. What it is, in a nutshell, is a 75 cm diffuser with different covers that can turn it into a reflector. I’ve never really been interested in getting a reflector, since I like to add my own light to the scene, but after realizing that the diffuser can work as a big, soft light source if you fire a flash through it I started seeing the potential. This isn’t a replacement for my softbox or umbrellas, it’s a different light source with different qualities.
The main benefit, especially compared to my softbox, is portability and ease of use. Holding a big, bulky softbox can be a bit awkward and you kind of need a boom or similar to work with it effectively. With the trigrip (that’s the name of just the diffuser, triflip is the whole kit with different covers) an assistant can easily hand-hold everything – trigrip in one hand and flash in the other. Everything is set up in an instance and it’s easy to move around, no extra parts that need to be assembled. There are of course limitations to this as well. For example you won’t be able to fly the light above your subject without a boom (unless you happen to employ a giant). You sacrifice flexibility for portability. I usually want to bring as much stuff as I can but sometimes it’s nice to travel with less gear, especially when travelling far – I’m not about to start hauling stands and booms aboard airplanes.
That’s how I’m using the trigrip in the shot above; my wife is holding it in one hand and a flash in the other to camera left. It’s a big light source and, as such, produce a nice, soft light. It’s the perfect tool for this kind of subtle light. A non photographer would probably think that this shot was all available light. A more obsessed person would stop to think and wonder whether there might be more to it than that. I like this kind of light for certain scenes, light that’s there without being noticed. Had I thought to take a shot with only available light you would have seen how much flatter that would be.
On an unrelated note, the little one was as difficult to work with as ever. Usually she loves being out and playing but take out a camera and nothing is fun anymore. In this shot she’s concerned about a spider that’s crawling on her hand. A few seconds later she started crying and my wife had to come to the rescue. She likes my bug shots when she sees them on the computer but she doesn’t like to have them on her.
I’m rather excited about this light modifier and I can easily see it becoming a favourite when I’m on the road. To make full use of the portability of it I do need an assistant but that’s usually not a big problem to find. There are other ways to use it as well and we’ll cover one technique that I’ll probably use a lot later this week, so stay tuned.