Monday, February 1, 2010

Lumodi - A different Breed of Flash Diffuser

You've heard of umbrellas and softboxes before - those are classical means of diffusing light (especially light from an accessory flash) for very pleasing portraits.

Let me introduce you to a 3rd kind of diffuser: Something called a "Beauty Dish" made by a company called Lumodi. 
It's light output isn't quite as soft as an umbrella or softbox but definitely not harsh like an undiffused flash.  It has its own character, which made for a more dramatic impact for the portraits above and below.  Beauty dishes are also lightweight and can be set up in literally two seconds (just stick your accessory flash into the opening in the back and you're all set!).  The portrait below is that of the Lumodi's president - a talented photographer, industrial designer, and entrepreneur named Brandon Cruz.  The Lumodi dishes sell for $69.96 and you can buy them (as well as see LOTS of other great examples of pictures taken with this light) off their website -  It's great fun to play with.

How were the portraits above taken?  Have a look at the wide shot below.  A total of 3 wireless flashes were used: One lighting the face (using the Lumodi beauty dish), one creating the "spot" in the background (more about that in a minute), and a 3rd just to add just a touch of accent light to the hair.  

 You can see the unmodified hairlight flash in the picture, which sits behind the subject and points toward the back of the head.  In truth this flash is completely optional; it adds such subtle light to the transition between head and background that most people wouldn't notice if it were gone.  But I personally like the extra touch that it provides and besides, I had an extra wireless flash handy. :-)

Now see that background spot?  I put a 3rd wireless flash on the floor behind the model, and I wrapped it in paper (forming a tube) and aimed it at the background (a sheet taped to the wall) so that only a small circle showed up on the background (see image below).  Using a 200mm lens and being very careful about where I placed my camera, I was able to get that spot to be directly behind my subject's head, acting like a "halo" and adding that angelic touch that everyone wants in their portraits.

Seriously, that's it!  This stuff may look intimidating at first ("Look at all that expensive stuff you have to invest in!"), but if you have people to help out you can cut your costs considerably.  The paper-wrapped flash is cheap.  And that hairlight flash can just be held by an assistant rather than having to futz with a light stand.  Incidentally, all of these flash examples will be part of a new book I'm working on dedicated to the Sony Flashes and uses for the wireless flash.  I'm hoping it will be finished by the end of the year.  (Let me know what you'd like it to include!)

BTW, if you're looking for more inspiration for what kind of "Wow!"-type photos can be taken with a couple of wireless flashes and some light modifiers, I strongly encourage you to spend some time at's "On Assignment" archive.   They were compiled by a newspaper photographer David Hobby who used wireless flashes to get awesome portraits in the field without a lot of equipment.

Florida and Nova Scotia seminars are open for enrollment!

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