There are so many options out there when it comes to light modifiers; it can be overwhelming at times deciding which one will merit your hard-earned money. I actually have a gear closet full of different ones.
Over the next year I will be posting my thought process of how I decide to tackle an individual shoot. It could be a portrait, a wedding, a video shoot, or what ever else may pop up.
Whenever I’m in pre production I ask myself a litany of questions that helps me decide which light modifier I want for the shoot.
Where is my location?
Is my shoot a portrait shoot, with lots of time? Do I have any natural light to work with ?
Is it a wedding, where I’ll be running from stop to stop throughout the day ?
What am I lighting?
I specialize in environmental and location portraits so I need to also light my set at times, as well as my subject.
What is my light source?
Will I be using speedlights, studio strobes, constant lights, or natural light?
Do I have an assistant?
This can be a factor as to how many lights and what size lights.
How much time do I have?
Time is one of my biggest factors when choosing lighting gear.
This was a trash the dress theme shoot, during which we shot in a transmission shop. I had the place for as long as I needed that day.
I knew going into the shoot that I wanted to take advantage of a bunch of areas, both inside and outside of the shop. Inside the shop I had very little natural light but outside I had plenty. I also knew I would not have an assistant.
Knowing all of this, I decided to go with speedlights. I use speedlights often. I walked into the shoot with my camera bag and a light stand bag and that was it. In my camera bag I had five speed lights. Speedlights are super easy to travel with. Without an assistant I would be able to move from spot to spot with little effort. As for my light modifier, I used the Westcott 28” Apollo with a Triple Threat Speedlite Bracket, as well as a few bare speedlights with gels.
The Apollo is one of my favorite modifiers for a few reasons. One reason is that I can use any light source I want with it, whether it be speedlights, studio strobes, constant lights, or even a household lamp. It’s also very lightweight and sets up in less then a minute. It opens like a umbrella and you’re good to go.
Third is it can be used as an indirect soft box, meaning the light source can face inside then fire and bounce off of the silver and back through the diffusion. This is great because it gives a much more even light and reduces specular highlights.
Lastly, it has a black recessed edge that allows me to control the light spread, or fall off. I know of no other soft box with such a large recessed edge.
My style is a bit more moody and lends it self to darker shadows and more contrast, the recessed edge helps me with my style. I just bought the 43" Apollo Orb with grid because it is a bit bigger and I have been noticing my self using round soft boxes more and more two more closely resemble the sun. I'm looking forward to trying it out.