Harness the Light: Three Effective On-Camera Flash Accessories

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Part of the creative lighting process is knowing how to make the best of what you have. If you already have some on-camera strobes, but want to modify the way the light hits your subject, you're in luck—you can do it without smashing open your piggy bank.



Impact Mini Softbox

The general rule in photography is that the larger the light source is in relation to your subject, the softer the light and shadows will be. When affixing this mini softbox to your shoe-mounted flash's head, it becomes a larger source of light. Once your flash is inside the softbox and held in place by the straps, the light will hit the silver interior, which will produce an added contrast in your images. Conversely, direct on-camera flash, without a softbox or light modifier, will typically provide too much illumination and give off harsh shadows.

Mini softboxes have a variety of uses; product photography, weddings, etc. The compact nature of their design means that they can be handily stored in most camera bags, while still providing room for other items.

For hobbyists photographing children, this item can help to provide a more professional look to your portraits.

The softbox comes individually, or bundled with a bounce diffuser

Impact Strobos Snoot

Want to put someone or something into the spotlight? Try a snoot. Snoots are interesting and unique items that serve the special purpose of narrowing the light from your flash into a circular beam. Many photographers  use snoots on their flashes as hair lights, to add some extra fill to their portraits from a different angle (and off-camera). If you're looking for more of a fun effect, snoots can offer a spotlight look as well. Use this with your cat and increase the power output for a "car head lights" type of look. You'll want to attach the grid that comes with the snoot for this.

Photo by Dustin Diaz

For even more creativity, snoots can add a dramatic look to your portraits.

You'll probably want a snoot that is built tough. In that case, take a look at this affordable and rugged one, also from Impact. 

For even more versatility, you can purchase the entire kit, with a beauty dish and grids. The beauty dish will help to evenly spread the lighting over a larger area—which is something a snoot cannot do.

LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer

Shoe-mount flashes like the Canon 430 EX II, Nikon SB-700, Olympus FL-36R, Sony F42-AM and others have tiltable heads to bounce light onto the ceiling and other reflective areas. The LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer will help not only to bounce the light, but also to soften it and spread it over a wider area. The design allows for precise directional bouncing towards your subject. As with the other products in this list, the softer shadows and even lighting is a result of the larger surface area.

The Pocket Bouncer has an adjustable one-size-fits-all strap for mounting onto your flash's head. If your flash already has a built-in bounce card, this one will provide more versatility and surface area.

What Do You Use?

Is there something that we left out? What do you use? Please share with us your items and their uses, in the comments below.

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I have the square mini softbox.  It is pretty much useless.  Cheap yes, but for functionality it is a huge fail.  It is a PITA to mount onto the flash and once you have it mounted it sags down. There is nothing keeping the white diffuser centered on the flash.  I think this was a neat concept, but the final product is more of a $15 joke than a useful flash diffuser.  Save you money for something more functional.

I have two devices that I use, both designed and sold by Gary Fong.  I have the Collapsible Lightsphere Diffuser and the PowerSnoot.  I keep the Lightsphere in my camera bag, since it collapses down to less than 2" thick, and it's really handy.  I don't use the PowerSnoot as often, but it is a neat tool to have when I'm looking for that specific effect.  Each was about $60-65.