What Modifier do I need?
We often get asked “What modifier do I need?” closely followed by “What does it do?”. So to try and make things a bit easier we have put together a list of our most popular modifiers, explaining what sort of light they create and what sort of photography they are good for.
A great all-round modifier is a rectangular softbox. This Jack of all trades can be seen everywhere from portrait studios to location video shoots! These come in all different sizes and are a great starting point for anyone looking to use flash photography.
The ‘Pop Up’ function of this type of modifier takes all the fuss out of setting up and packing down, because there are no rods to deal with!
Its ability to create a large flat area of light and with a range of diffusing options it’s a must have for all photographers/videographers both on location and in the studio.
Another really popular style of softbox is an OctaBox. Octaboxes are great for portrait or fashion work. The light produced from the eight-sided box wraps around the subject to give you an even spread of light, resulting in soft shadows. Octaboxes also create a very natural looking round catch light in your subjects’ eyes, rather than the square or rectangular catch light produced with standard softboxes.
This Octabox also benefits from a range of diffusing options as well as ‘Pop Up’ system the same as the rectangular softbox, making this ideal for location portraits and fashion shoots.
Beauty dishes are something we get asked about on a regular basis. This style of modifier is very popular with beauty photographers (clues in the name) but will also be found in the studio of most portrait photographers.
A white Beauty Dish is a great option for individual portraits and headshots and come in many sizes, which have different effects depending on your needs. Having a smaller diameter will allow you to create flattering light at close distances while giving you more control of the light spread. The relatively compact size is easy to manage in either a studio or environmental setting. Having a larger diameter will allow you to back your light away from your subject and create flattering light with a greater area of coverage. The larger size of this beauty dish makes it a great option for studio use
No conversation around modifiers would be complete without mentioning umbrellas. These incredibly versatile bits of kit come in all shapes and sizes. From Transparent/shoot through to silver reflective and there is a huge range to choose from. However I would like to talk about the lesser-known Parabolic umbrella and why it’s the must-have, go-anywhere tool.
Parabolic umbrellas create a unique lighting pattern when compared to traditional photographic umbrellas. The parabolic shape focuses the light into a broad, focused column, giving the user more control over the direction and the spill of illuminated areas. Moving your flash head closer or farther away from the centre of the umbrella gives users the ability to further fine-tune the focus and intensity of the light.
White umbrellas create a soft light that is much less specular than silver umbrellas. Many photographers prefer white umbrellas when they wish to create a softer, gentler feel to the image. The soft, muted contrast of white umbrella is perfect for weddings and bridal portraiture, infant portraits and fashion
Silver umbrellas are traditionally used as the main light in high-contrast portraiture, such as athletic/hero-style shoots. The highly-reflective material produces a specular light quality that creates stronger definition in shadows, whilst wrapping light around the subject
All umbrellas pack away into a small thin carrier allowing them to be stored and carried pretty much anywhere. Nearly all location photographers will use umbrellas for almost all types of shoots.
Hopefully, this overview will help you choose your next modifier with a bit more ease.