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Most essential Light Modifiers for your Photography in Studio or Outdoors

When we buy any studio light, it comes with a basic reflector around the light source which is the tube that produces a burst of white light. Light modifiers are such tools used in photography studios to shape, soften, or otherwise manipulate the quality of light. Over the past several years like many other Photographers, I have been using the following light modifiers on an everyday routine basis.

Softbox to Diffuse or make the light source larger

A softbox is a type of light modifier that is used to create soft, diffused light. It consists of a box-shaped frame with a removable front panel that is covered with a neutral diffusing material, such as white fabric or translucent plastic material. These are specifically created for this purpose so that light gets diffused but not get blocked that much. Softboxes are commonly used in Beauty and portrait photography to create flattering, even light but their usage is very common in every other genre of Photography as well.

Size is what matters

As we know the larger the light source is, the softer the light is. "Largeness" is in reference to the size of the subject. The size of the softbox to create soft light will depend on how large it is and how much away the front diffuser is from the light source. It is based on the principle of the Sun and the clouds. Sun is farther away from us and clouds are very close. Since the sun is farther away, it appears small and the light reaching us from the sun is in straight lines and hence hard. When filtered through the cloud which appears large because it is closer to us, the light reaches us from multiple directions within the large cloud and hence gets soft and diffused.

The same concept of the Sun and the Cloud is adapted in the case of a Softbox. Opt for a large soft box if you wish the light to be soft and uniform across your subject.

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Since the soft box is quite large it is able to cover the couple completely without having to add another light.

The lighting created with the help of SoftBoxes is quite uniform across the subject for this Beauty shot.

Strip lighting for fashion photography

A strip-shaped rectangular softbox was used to short-light the model. Strip allows the illumination to be soft and diffused yet restricted to a limited narrow area. If you notice, the right of the model is more illuminated and highlighted as compared to the other side. Side lighting helps in revealing the fine texture of the sweater she is wearing without increasing the contrast too much.

Softboxes are available in Different sizes and shapes. From a very small size which can be fitted on a camera Flash to a large size which is used to illuminate cars and other Automobiles. deeper and larger the softbox is better is the Diffusion. Many come with additional internal Diffusers as well.

Deep parabolic softboxes are quite commonly used in Fashion and Glamour Photography industry.

Lalterns allow for a soft diffused omnidirectional light particularly useful in the illumination of Interiors. These are very commonly used for Interior and Architectural Photography.

Umbrellas for quick setup.

An umbrella is a type of light modifier that is used to create soft, diffused light or bounced light depending upon the material being used. Its shape and operation are just like a conventional umbrella for the rain. Curved in nature, it may use a reflective surface ( Silver, Golden or white on its inner surface) or this curved surface could be made of diffusing material. Being versatile these can be used for a variety of lighting setups very quickly as you just need to open and fix them in the slot of the Light.

Compared to Softboxes, these do not come in very large sizes and that makes them less practical and portable. Most of them are open from the other end just like a conventional umbrella but some do come with an attachment to cover so that the light does not escape, However, there is an advantage, that the escaped light eventually bounces off from the surroundings in the room you are shooting in and acts as a further fill in.

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Umbrellas are available in different fabrics. Essentially, Translucent, Neutral white, Silver and Gold. The light in the one with the translucent material is pointed toward the subject. In other umbrellas these being reflexive in nature the light is pointed in the direction opposite to the subject.

Beauty Dish

A beauty dish is a type of photographic lighting modifier that is used in portrait photography and fashion photography to create a soft and even light. It is a circular dish-shaped reflector with a central light source and a white interior. The light is directed towards the reflector, which diffuses and softens the light, creating a flattering and even light on the subject's face.

Beauty dishes are popular in portrait and beauty photography because they produce a soft and even light that can help to reduce harsh shadows and create a natural-looking image. They are often used in conjunction with other lighting modifiers, such as reflectors or diffusers, to further soften the light or create additional effects.

Beauty dishes come in a range of sizes, typically ranging from around 16 inches to 30 inches in diameter, and can be used with a variety of lighting equipment, such as strobes or speedlights. They are versatile lighting modifiers and can be used for a variety of lighting setups, from headshots to full-body portraits.

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

A beauty Dish with a deflector inside, without a Diffuser, works as a good combination of Hard yet soft light, which is very good to reveal fine detail in Lingerie Photography.

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Learn Photography Studio Lighting - How to use light modifiers

Grids or Snoots for better control and to emphasize

A grid is a type of light modifier that is used to control the direction and spread of light. It consists of usually a Honeycombed grid of metal that attaches to the front of a light source and helps to control the direction of the light. Based on the size of this grid, it will create a smaller or larger pool of light. Essentially it bocks the light going sideways and allows only the light rays which are going straight to reach the subject.