A Short Course Book
Digital Desktop Studio Photography
The Complete Guide To Lighting and Photographing Small Objects with your Digital Camera

Other Lighting Controls

Barndoors. Courtesy of Smith-Victor.
A snoot. Courtesy of Smith-Victor.
Scrims. Courtesy of Smith-Victor.
A honeycomb grid. Courtesy of Smith-Victor.
Gels (Snappies). Courtesy of Smith-Victor.
There are a number of devices you can use to direct or control your studio light. Some you can jury-rig yourself, others you can buy. In most cases the light must be designed to accept these accessories and they are not always interchangeable between makes and models. Generally, the more popular the light, the more accessories you'll be able to find for it.
  • Zoom heads on some lights let you adjust the width of the light beam.
  • Barn doors are adjustable black metal flaps or leaves surrounding a light. You can position them to keep the light from spilling into areas where it's not wanted. When the light is pointed toward the camera, one flap can be adjusted to prevent light from entering the camera lens and causing lens flare.
  • Snoots attach to the front of the light and direct the light onto the subject in a narrow beam to highlight a small area with little or no effect on the surrounding area.
  • Gels are colored filters can then be placed in front of a light to change the color it casts. To get the full effect, you need to set you camera's white balance to match the light source before attaching the filter. To add gels or other filters, you use a filter holder that attaches to the front of the light.
  • Scrims are screens woven from fine wire. Their function is to reduce light output at the source without affecting the color temperature. They may be stacked to achieve variations of light intensity
  • Fresnel lenses focus light into a narrower beam.
  • Diffusion screens made of translucent plastic, paper, or fabric, are placed in front of a light to soften it.
  • Honeycomb grids make light more specular and less diffuse. Specular light rays are more parallel and tend not to fill shadows or lower contrast as much as more diffuse light does.
  • Gobos or flags are panels or other things that are placed between the light and subject. These block light from the lens or part of the scene or create patterns of shadows on the background or subject. One use is to position them between the light and a hot spot on the subject to reduce the contrast and eliminate a reflection.

A diffusion screen. Courtesy of Smith-Victor.

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