black foamie thing

flagging your back-lighting flash with the black foamie thing

My favorite on-camera light modifier, the black foamie thing, is of course, nothing more than a very affordable (and flexible) way to flag your flash. This helps control how the light from your on-camera flash spills. (It’s not a flash diffuser!) I also keep one on hand when I use off-camera flash, to flag any direct flash – whether to control it from flaring the lens, or from spilling onto my subject.

When I did the photo session for the review of the Canon 600EX-RT, I had to flag the one speedlight so it didn’t spill on our model. So it has other handy uses other than just for on-camera bounce flash.

During a recent photography workshop at my studio, we photographed Aleona in a freight elevator for that gritty urban look. We added a speedlight behind her to have the rim-light create some separation between her black outfit and the dark silver wall in the back. However, it spilled to the sides, and we had to control the light better …

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bounce flash comparison: with & without the black foamie thing

One of the presentations that I gave at the After Dark event in St Louis, was (perhaps inevitably by now), about bounce flash photography. Part of this was a sequence explaining how the direction that you bounce your flash into, will define the light pattern on your subject. The black foamie thing helps in directing the light from your flash, especially if you want short lighting on your subject.

And here is the comparison – with the black foamie thing, and without. Without flagging the flash, there is direct flash. Then the light is flat and specular and there is a distinct hard shadow that isn’t flattering.

camera settings for both images:  1/200 @ f/4 @ 800 ISO
I had our model stand close to a wall (with wooden trim). She was about 6 or 8 feet away from the wall.
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materials for the black foamie thing / black foamy thing

As regular readers of the Tangents blog know, I use the black foamie thing (BFT) as a truly inexpensive flash modifier to flag my on-camera flash to give me lighting indoors that truly look nothing like on-camera flash. The BFT consists of a small piece of black foam held in place by two hair bands. Simplicity itself.

I’m frequently asked where the black foam can be sourced … well, here are the Amazon affiliate links to order the black foam, as well as hair bands.

All the links to articles relating to the black foamie thing.

Of course, there is also a Facebook fan page for the black foamie thing.

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video clip – using the black foamie thing

When bouncing your flash, flagging your on-camera speedlight is a simple way of controlling the direction of light from your flash .. and hence, controlling the quality of light from the on-camera flash. I use a simple piece of black foam – the infamous black foamie thing, to achieve this.The piece of foam (Amazon), can be ordered via this link. I cut the sheet into smaller pieces. The BFT is held in position by two hair bands (Amazon), and the BFT is usually placed on the under-side of the flash-head.

To help explain the use of the Black Foamie Thing (BFT), I met up with Anelisa to create a short video clip.

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