Events can be a lot more difficult for photographers to shoot than anybody really realizes. Any normal person would ask how difficult it is to walk around and snap photos of people walking, talking and ect. Honestly though, it gets hard because the photos all tend to look the same and it ends up being a challenge to figure out how to eliminate different things; like the Virgin Mary Shadow in your photos. I pulled that photo from Photo Tips online, as opposed to taking the time to create the effect myself as if I was trying I figured I’d probably have a tough time doing it to the extent it bothers me out in the field. Either way, I’m kind of a lighting nut. Not to say that I’m good at it; I just like it. I know that a bigger light source closer to your subject is the key to having softer light and less shadows. You could get soft light out of a speed-light if the light was close enough; but at that point you’re talking less than knife fight distance and more like Intravenous distance. That being said, there’s something to be said about on camera light modifiers, as while they can sometimes look stupid; they also provide the kind of light you need when shooting someone straight on or otherwise.
(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Canon 16-35F2.8L@16mm. Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to eTTL on the cameras hot shoe with an ExpoImaging Large Diffusion panel over the top.)
Enter the Rogue modifier kits. Expoimaging is actually the name of the company that makes these pieces, but Rogue is what’s on the box and that’s a good name for them. These are the kind of kits you want if you’ve got a camera belt and you aren’t taking light stands or any other kinds of lighting but you want to manipulate your light just a little bit. The pieces all come separate like I linked too before, or you can get ALL 7 pieces in the Master Lighting Kit (which is what I was loaned) for about $200 plus tax. This kit is the real deal, and has a ton of goodies no matter who you are. Unfortunately my style of photography doesn’t led itself to everything that’s included in the kit, but for what you get you’ll end up using each piece at some point or another, guaranteed.
(Photo Courtesy of ExpoImaging’s website)
The big diffuser panel for the flash is good when on camera. The diffusers and bounce panels all snap onto the flash and velcro to themselves so you don’t need to perminantly glue anything, or stick anything to your speedlight; which is freakin nice. My speedlights are covered in tape residue, and velcro from the last few years of modifier abuse. Its nice not to have to stick anything permanently to one for a change. All that being said, I probably wouldn’t use the diffusion panels as an off camera light modifier except in a moment of dire emergency need. Not that it wouldn’t perform admirably, but when you put your flash off camera you’ve most likely brought other options like soft-boxes, umbrellas or even bedsheets which can diffuse the light much better. If it’s all you’ve got it’ll do wonders for you though, which should be evident since they could be considered the evolution of the 3×5 index card old time photographers used to rubber band to their speedlights.
(Nikon D4, 400ISO, Nikon 28-70F2.8D@45mm. 1/30th@F4. Nikon SB900 with the Rogue 45 Degree Grid and a Rogue circular Orange gel pointed at the foux computer monitor to give Karen the illusion she was working in the hospital room (which wasn’t real either), set to iTTL-1. Single nikon SB900 set to 1/2 power with a Rogue Blue gel shot up into a very far away ceiling to give the room the cool blue medial feel. Both Speedlights fired by Nikon SU-800 Commander on the cameras hotshoe)
While that’s great though, for me the kit really shines through with it’s Grids and Gels, which I used CONSTANTLY while having this kit at my disposal. I really enjoy adding color to my photography to the point where sometimes it ends up being unnecessary. That’s unfortunate, but true. Either way, I’ve found that adding a little bit of color from time to time can add a bit of Pop to an image. The image above was a Demo Hospital room for a hospital being built here in Indianapolis. Nothing in the room worked, and the computer that our model is on wasn’t even real. We had to move a table, and steal the computer’s monitor (wasnt even a real monitor). From the fake room next door. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit more pop. The Rogue Grid allowed me to focus the light very tightly when I needed too, and the gels that you can get for it were perfect as they are cut to fit exactly inside the grid set. No more tape, no more wrapping your flash with it; they just fit and work. Awesome. The Gels for the straight Speedlight were fantastic too as they were large enough to cover the whole head, and they were consistent in color with other gels that I have. My ONLY complaint about the kit though, is that it only had one rubber band to attach the gels with. Yes, I know I can go to the store and get a box of a thousand rubber bands for about a buck, but Expoimaging included a really nice heavy duty rubber band in the kit, and I don’t understand why they included only one. Most people own more than one flash, especially if they are using them off camera (which is something the kit is good for). Not to mention the fact that the image I have above (which is on the box) shows 5 flashes, to show all the possibilities of the kit. If you’re going to do all that, why not make it easy to use gels on multiple flashes? Just a thought. In pinch for an impromptu portrait like the one of Tom just below here, it’s fantastic because you get a much larger light source than you would have otherwise. The shot at the top of this post was shot with their large diffuser panel outdoors with the flash ON THE CAMERA. Look at the light that gave me in a pinch at an event! Holy On Camera Diffusion Batman!
(Canon 5D Mark II, 50ISO, 1/200th@F4. Canon EF16-35F2.8@17mm. Single Canon 580EX set to eTTL shot into an Expoimaging Rogue Large Flasbender all attached to a Canon off camera cable, held out by my left hand above Tom)
Like I said above, the Rogue Master Lighting kit contains lots of products that are great for Portraits in a pinch. This shot of Tom was taken at around 8pm in the Indystar’s parking lot. I didn’t take very many, but I took more than probably necessary thanks to my 5D’s inability to make a decision based on eTTL. No setup, no wild lighting diagram, just a simple portrait of an exhausted friend getting ready to head home after a work related meeting. Just a Flashbender on a Speedlight attached to an off camera cable. The background is a hair darker than I’d like but I think it works. Simple portrait, very fast. Nothing wrong with either of those things. Simple. That’s the name of the game.
(Canon 5D Mark II, 200ISO, Canon EF70-200F2.8IS@135mm. 1/100th@F5.6. Elinchrom Quadra A head set to 1/2 power shot into a Promaster 72″ Umbrella to above camera left. Single Canon 580EX speedlight set to 1/16th zoomed t0 105mm shot down into a Rogue Diffusion panel sitting on the counter as a bounce card to give a little light under the hat brim. Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set t0 1.4th power with a Rogue 25 Degree Grid aimed at the Wall in back about 40′ to give a little separation between our model and the background. All lights fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II transceivers.)
Unlike the image of Tom above, this image here was not a simple setup, simple shot. The Rogue modifiers worked well though. I did end up using one as a bounce card, which isn’t its intended purpose, but working on the fly is a skill you slowly develop as a photographer. If I had a better idea at the time I’d have probably done that; but using the diffusion panel as a bounce seemed the most obvious while I was there. The grid in the background easily kept the spill of light to a minimum, and gave me the most out of the little speedlight as compared to the Quadra. It was perfect.
I also shot something else that I can’t talk about yet with the Rogue modifiers. Really neat project for Plastic Surgery Practice Magazine coming out in September, otherwise I’d post a few shots here to illustrate the diversity you can achieve with the kit. I’m a little worried my stuff is a bit more colorful than other stuff you’ll find in the publication; but the editor seemed pleased with it so I’m sure it’ll be just fine. With that being said, the time I’ve spent with this kit has been great as all the pieces have performed exactly the way I would have hoped them too when looking at the pictures on the box. I have less uses for the bounce and diffusion panels than I do the Gels and Grid; but that mostly goes a long with the types of things that I shoot, and the way that I shoot them; it’s definitely not any down side to the kit. They have two different sets available too. The Master Lighting kit, which is $199, and the Master Portrait Kit, which is $150. Otherwise you can find all the little pieces available individually for between $20 and $50; making the kits even more attractive considering the combination package offers what appears to be a solid discount. If you go looking for this stuff, make sure you call or go to Roberts Camera here in Indy. If you’re not in Indy they have a website too. More Soon.