Using flashguns can be daunting enough that many photographers might be put off from experimenting further with lighting. But there are a number flash modifiers that are quite simple to use and can produce a wide range of creative effects. Below we’ve rounded up six of the best flash modifiers you can use to soften your flash, add a dash of colour and other tricks.
Best flash modifiers: 01 Wide-angle diffuser
Most flashguns come with a flip-out wide-angle diffuser – a plastic panel moulded with prism shapes that sits immediately in front of the flash head. The prisms spread the flash to lighten up a wider area for shooting at wide-angle focal lengths.
Best flash modifiers: 02 Bounce-and-swivel head
Many flashguns have a bounce-and-swivel head, enabling you to reflect the flash from nearby walls and ceilings for a wider spread – and thus more diffused light. Light-coloured surfaces are best – ideally white – as otherwise the light will be tinged with a colour cast from the reflected surface.
Best flash modifiers: 03 Catchlight panel
Many high-end flashguns have a catchlight panel to provide an attractive catchlight in your subject’s eyes to bring portraits to life.
You can use this when bouncing flash as the pull-out panel aims a small proportion of light forwards; and also when using your flashgun to light your subjects face-on.
Best flash modifiers: 04 Diffusers
All manner of flash diffusers are available, and while the designs differ wildly – from the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce and Gary Fong Lightsphere to the Lastolite Ezy-Box – they essentially place a semi-opaque layer in front of the flash, effectively enlarging its area and so softening and diffusing it.
Best flash modifiers: 05 Gels
Shooting indoors can cause white balance issues as the colour of the flash competes with tungsten lighting, for instance. A gel in front of the flash head can alter its output to match the ambient light – or can be used creatively to give a deliberately colourful burst of flash similar to stage lighting.
Best flash modifiers: 06 Ring flash adaptor
Ring flash is a specialised type of flash that surrounds the lens so that the subject is lit from all around, thus eliminating shadows. It’s often used in medical or forensic photography, but works great for portraits, giving a shadowless look and attractive doughnut-shaped catchlights in the eyes.
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