Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Five ways to use flash attachments and accessories for pro lighting effects
The word is finally out: TTL flash is a powerful tool to improve your photography, and easier to use than ever before. Modern TTL flashes are loaded with useful features and can even work wirelessly from your camera.
One obstacle that has kept many photographers from embracing TTL flash is the lack of accessories available to modify TTL flash. One photographer may need a snoot for a hair light, while another needs a softbox for a portrait. The fashion shooter wants a ring flash for his style of shooting, and the wildlife photographer needs a tool to project the flash long distances. Today, there’s a host of accessories available for TTL flash, no matter what your needs.
Current TTL flashes have the ability to narrow the angle of light by zooming the flash head. Some TTL flashes go all the way out to 200mm, which significantly narrows the angle of light. But some situations require a very small shaft of light, something only a few inches wide, or even smaller. Imagine you want to shoot a narrow shaft of light across a subject’s eyes in a portrait. The only way to accomplish this is by using a snoot. Snoots are flash attachments that narrow the beam of light down to a very small area. Two snoots that are popular with TTL flash are made by LumiQuest and Honl Photo.
LumiQuest makes a wide variety of flash attachments, including a snoot. Their snoot is a flexible plastic tube that uses Velcro® to attach to your flash and comes with a removable Velcro® strap or Velcro® with adhesive that sticks permanently to the flash head. The flash beam is significantly narrowed using this snoot and can be further narrowed by pinching the front of the snoot.
Honl Photo also makes a variety of TTL flash accessories, all very functional and well thought out. The Honl snoot comes in two different lengths, and consists of flexible material that wraps around the flash head and attaches with Velcro®. Honl Photo supplies Velcro® speed straps that are wrapped around your flash head to accept attachments. I prefer the eight-inch Regular snoot from Honl over its five-inch Shorty model—the eight-inch narrows the light more.
With both brands of snoots, I use the removable Velcro® strap to attach accessories to my flash. This keeps my flash head clean, and I’m able to use other accessories that don’t require Velcro®.
What about those times when you need a narrow flash beam, but not as much as a snoot? Honl Photo also makes TTL grids. Grids are flash attachments that narrow the spread of light using a honeycomb cell pattern of metal or other material placed in front of the flash. Honl Photo makes two sizes, 1⁄4-inch and 1⁄8-inch. The 1⁄8-inch will give a narrower beam of light. These grids are useful when you’re trying to create dramatic portraits or control background lights in a multiple flash setup.
Page 1 of 3