If light were to photography what paint is to painting, light modifiers (or shapers) would be the paintbrushes. They’re the tools that let you precisely control where and how the light falls, and so create your desired aesthetic. Whether you want to produce hard shadows or silhouettes, replicate soft window light or imbue each shot with a particular colour, there are light modifiers designed specifically to do the job.
CameraPro stocks an extensive variety of studio light modifiers (aka flash modifiers) from leading brands including Profoto, Elinchrom, Bowens and Lastolite. You’ll find everything from softboxes and umbrellas to collapsible reflectors and coloured gels.
Different light modifiers have different purposes, so which ones you need will depend on which subject/s you photograph and what effect you’re after. Here’s a brief guide to the most common photography light modifiers.
Lightweight, collapsible and affordable, reflectors provide a simple yet effective means of bouncing light—be it sun or flash—back into shadows. They can also be used to block or ’flag’ light, and black reflectors can be used to emphasise shadows. Reflectors are often sold as kits containing different colours, each of which have different reflective uses/properties. Ideal for portrait, fashion and lifestyle shoots on location but also handy for the studio.
Scrims and diffusers are translucent white panels or discs that can be used to diffuse light sources, thus creating softer and more flattering shadows. They’re very handy for location shoots where you might be at the mercy of intense sunlight.
Umbrellas are relatively easy to transport and very simple to set up. Due to their large, hemispheric shape they produce soft, even light and natural-looking shadows across a large area. Especially popular for portrait shoots requiring fast and easy setup.
Like umbrellas, softboxes produce soft, pleasing light and shadows but with greater control. They also require more time and effort than umbrellas to set up so they’re generally best left assembled. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes (rectangular, square, octagonal), each of which has its own distinct qualities. Commonly used for portrait photography in the studio.
A beauty dish is a shallow, reflective modifier with a central plate that covers the light source. This plate reflects the light back into then out of the dish, creating a semi-hard light source with contrasting shadows, round catch lights and no central hotspot – ideal for sculpting facial features in beauty/fashion shoots.
Grids usually attach to the front of another light modifier (e.g. softbox) to focus light by reducing its spread. The finer the grid, the greater this effect. Grids are sometimes sold as kits that include a variety of grid densities. Common applications for grids include accent or hair lights.
Barn doors effectively add top, bottom, left and right ‘flaps’ to the front of a studio light, giving you control over the light’s spread. Useful for accent lighting (e.g. hair/rim).
Shaped like a cone, a snoot funnels light into a narrow beam. Ideal for pinpoint illumination.
Gels are sheets of coloured plastic through which you can direct a speedlight or studio light. This tints the light with the colour of the gel and is a good way to colour a selective element or the entire scene. Gels can melt if subjected to sufficient heat so it’s best to avoid using your flash’s modelling light with them.
Whether you’re looking to start or expand your lighting kit, CameraPro stocks some of the best flash modifiers and shapers on the market to suit any need or budget. We also carry a comprehensive range of other lighting equipment, from flash units to light stands. All stocked products come with a full Australian manufacturer’s warranty.