Yipee! I got a new light mod! I’ve wanted a soft box for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and got the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS. I got it as a kit from B&H that came with the soft box, speed ring, light stand and umbrella swivel head & all the coldshoe hardware for flashes. It’s the bomb! Plus, if I ever get/use studio lights, the speed ring is full-size to accommodate those lights too. It works just spiffy with speed lights though and it gives a super nice quality of light. I put it together when I first got it and did some quick test shots with the kids. It’s amazing light, soft wrapping and because it’s an octa, you get a round catchlight similar to a beauty dish. 8) Love it! I also used it on a recent family session shoot for a 3 month old baby and it worked wonderfully. I even used it for a small group shot and it was nice light, considering it’s only 15 inches or so in diameter! 😀 I’ll do a full review of the product soon.
A while back I stumbled across a really cool D.I.Y. lighting project. Enter, the Beauty Dish. It’s a light modifier (you fire a flash into) to get a different quality of light. Like a soft box, there is some diffusion that goes on with the light, giving it a softer quality. But the Beauty Dish still has flash punch. Edgier shadows. Not really matched light for babies or soft portraits, but for glamour or just overall coolness, it’s the bomb. They also cost around $350+ bones to buy one! So it’s out of the question for me. So when I stumbled across David Tejada’s blog with the do it yourself tip, I had to try it. 8 bucks for the plastic planter, another 12 bones for plastic spray paint, a DVD spindle I already had, a convex mirror from Wal-Mart for a whopping $1.49 and a few nuts and bolts and you’ve got it made. So for a quick $25 bucks, you’re up $325.00 in the photo world!!
I made the beauty dish to fit my brand spankin’ new SB-900 speed light. It’s Nikon’s flagship flash and it rocks the set. Now, I’ve got a 3 light setup for pure sweetness in off camera flash. But more on that for another post. So I finished the project this morning and put together some test shots with the help of my loving family (who are also patient and giving when it comes to me taking photos of them). These shots are not edited in any way, they are straight out of camera to show the different quality of light the beauty dish . . . dishes out. 8)
The coolest thing about the beauty dish is that it gives you a nice round catch light, much like an octa-box. It makes more sense to have a round catch light than a square one from a regular soft box because the eye is round. 😉 You can also see how the light quality is still punchy yet diffused a bit too. In A & B above, if you watch the face shadow around the chin, in the beauty dish shot (A) there is still a shadow, but it’s softer. In B, the straight flash (off camera, camera left position) you can see a really firm shadow. In C, well you have a naturally lit shot at high noon in full sun. Gotta have flash. 8) Obviously, you can make the beauty dish more punchy, as in the first photo above where there is a sharper quality of light coming from it. It’s pretty versatile though and I look forward to putting it to good use somewhere down the photo line. PS: If any one wants some complimentary glamour shots, let me know. I’m looking for a model to try this out! 😆
I’m now officially addicted to light modifiers. I can’t stand bare flash and I want to control and shape the light. Make it work for me. I’m open to just about any kind of solution and option available too. I don’t discriminate that much. 😉 Enter, the Gary Fong Lightsphere. It’s been around for a number of years now and had several updates and redesigns. The latest is the collapsible version. Before, you had to carry around an awkwardly sized tupperware bowl with you. They don’t fit well in your camera bag. They don’t fit well anywhere. So, the newest version remedied that problem. It collapses down to only an inch and a half in size. Pretty slick. That fits in the gear bag easily.
The general concept with the Lightsphere is to take the light from an external flash and make it bigger. Bigger light is softer light. More diffused light. More even light. Think of clouds in front of the sun. Light is softer and more diffused because the light source got bigger – instead of the 93,000,000 mile away sun (a huge light source, but so far away it’s small — like the light from a flash) – you have clouds becoming a giant soft box. The Lightsphere takes the small light and makes it bigger and spreads it out. That’s basically all it does, no magic. But it’s handy in SOME circumstances.
Hardcore strobists and professionals may poo poo the Lightsphere, calling it the “Fong-Dong” (due to its, *ahem*, Phallic design). And as a directional light shaping tool, it’s not that great. In fact, it’s downright poor. But, as a solution for on the move, candid “I need some soft diffused light and don’t have no time for off camera flash solutions” it rocks the set giving you really soft, flat, even,
boring, light. Plus the new version collapses down flat-ish so it fits in your bag nicer. Did I already mention that?! 😉
Don’s Photo sells this thing for $90 Canadian Bones. That’s a bloody ripoff for this thing. You can seriously get similar results by plopping a $3.00 tupperware bowl over your flash head. It’s not worth $90 bucks. B&H Photo sells it for $56.00. Any of my border folk friends reading this, have it shipped to Donna’s and save the mad cheddar on this. Even at $56 US bones, it’s still pricey. But then again, everything in photography is an overpriced ripoff.
Buy the Gary Fong Dong Lightsphere Collapsible if you: a) need a quick on-camera light solution b) don’t have time to do a much nicer off camera lighting setup c) have an extra $90 bones you don’t mind parting with.
Don’t buy the Gary Fong Dong Lightsphere Collapsible if you a) want/expect cool & nicer directional off camera lighting b) will lose sleep over losing $90 bucks.
In the gallery below are pictures of the Lightsphere Collapsible product itself, as well as sample shots from it being used in a real life lighting situation – candid shots from Ethan’s Birthday party. All those B-Day party shots are on camera in TTL mode. Finally there is a comparison shot of off-camera light modifiers using a bounce umbrella, shoot through umbrella, Lightsphere and a Soft Box, so you can take a look and see for yourself the quality of light that is produced.