So it’s that time of year and if your a photographer and anything like me living in the UK its a dismal time of year. Wet windy dull and depressing. So what to do in situations like this …. Make yourself shoot of course. Set yourself a challenge and see what you can do. My challenge last night was to take a shot of one or more of my cameras with diffused light using off camera flashes similar to a shot I have seen on the web. I chose a shot of the lighting I liked and tried to emulate into a shot of my own. So how did I get on.
Well being lazy I could not be bothered to drag out all my lighting gear, stands triggers,soft boxes and modifiers so I decided to improvise and found a great new and very effective light diffusing modifier and bet there is one in your camera bag right now and you don’t know it.
So let’s start with what I wanted to try and achieve, I wanted very soft highly diffused light over a pretty small area. So my soft boxes and shoot through umbrellas were not going to cut it.
I wanted to ensure I was able to get a high degree of light fall off at the edges so that I had a spot light but with very diffused edges. This creates a natural vignette. I’m a big fan of vignette and use software in my post process to some degree to virtually all my images on a daily basis. This time though the vignette needed to be created by light. That’s sound odd !!
I thought I would start with grids over my speedlighs. Nope to wide and too harsh, in needed more.
So I start to look around for more diffusion. I tried some grease proof paper yuck too yellow, found some tracing paper from my kids schoolbags nope too cold. I found a white t-shirt nope lost to much light and was having to drive my speedlights too hard. I removed the paper shade from the standard lamp in the hallway, no good wife not impressed “bad robot” I was not going to give up there must me something to hand. Digging around in my Domke bag I found just the ticket.
So the above set of images have lighting set up with two Nikon speed lights wireless triggers to my Fuji x-E1, set at 1/125 shutter I just balanced with the light power (keeping it low to conserve batteries and get a high cycle rate a speedy duration) with aperture on the 35mm f1/4 Fujinon lens. Yep still sticking with the one camera one lens NYR. One speedlight was set up high to the camera right on a shelf with a 10inch home made black paper snoot and 10deg grid, the other was place on the same table and therefore same plane low with a 20deg grid both approx 3-4ft from the Fuji X100 subject. So if you went off and set that up now you would not get pleasing results. Until you add the secret diffusing magic this little foam discs you get in the bottom of your plastic filter cases. See told you you have one, similar to these I bet.
Yep cool eh. I just stuffed one on these behind the grids of both speedlights and hey presto nicely diffused photons get shot out of the end of my speedlights onto my shiny subject camera model bounce off and collected by my generously sized photon collector buried into the case of my open shuttered wonder. Boom lovely…. The following set of images are of my grandfathers old Pentax Spotmatic or which I have never taken a frame because the shutter is corroded, sadly to he died when I was only 11 years old and never got to talk photography with him. I do think however he would be pleased. I have post processed them with Aperture/Nik plugin colour efx and used a cross processed LO2 Filter. It seemed fitting to process this way for I’m sure my grandad would have approved and enjoyed these shots of his beloved Pentax.
So that’s it. A little foam disc makes me happy, it’s always in my bag. Super lightweight, and usable. Just needs a little tweak on the white balance if your shooting and need good skin tone but then again I don’t think I would do this if I would shoot a client or paid work but hey when stuck yeah sure out theses little beauties will come.