my choice of flash modifiers
Light modifiers for on-camera speedlights all generally do the same thing – they spread a lot of light around, and throw some light directly forward from the speedlight. In a way, this gives a bare-bulb effect to the light from the flashgun .. as opposed to light that is entirely bounced off other surfaces.
As mentioned, the various light modifiers all do the same thing with greater or lesser efficiency. One of the most frequent questions I get asked, is which light modifier I would recommend … even though I explain that I mostly use The Black Foamie Thing ™ when indoors. (Here’s one recent example of the results I get with that light modifier.)
I want to control the direction of my bounce flash. The generic light modifiers work counter to that .. they flood the room with light from the camera’s position. But what I’m after is directional light from my flashgun, and for that I need to bounce my flash in specific ways and the generic flash modifiers won’t help.
What I mostly dislike about the generic light modifiers is that they are advertised as a kind of magic bullet to make flash photography easier and better. This then allow most photographers to NOT put any thought into what they want to achieve with light, but instead reach for that advertised quick fix. And therein lies the problem. There is so much more to be done with light than just plonking a diffuser on top of your flash.
There are times though that I do need to disperse light directly from my speedlight, and for this I either use the Stofen (because it is cheap and small and fits in my pocket), or the Better Bounce Card (because it is inexpensive and light and works as efficiently as any of the other light modifiers). Some light modifiers are so heavy, that they risk damaging the speedlight’s rotating flash-head through constant use.
So there it is .. the light modifier I use 95% of the time when I’m indoors – a piece of cheap black foam to flag the light from my speedlight. There are also two other light modifiers I would recommend to disperse light when it isn’t entirely possible to bounce flash entirely off other surfaces. I’ve tried numerous of the light modifiers on the market, but I feel that I simply don’t need them … and I think the results I achieve weekend after weekend, consistently prove me true on this.
Regarding any light modifier – we need to figure out first why we think you need a light modifier, and then why that specific light modifier. And putting a little thought into what it is we want to achieve with on-camera speedlights, it might even become apparent that the advertising hype for these items won’t help us nearly as much as a clear understanding of flash photography and light.
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