Small Mods for Speedlites
Rogue FlashBender Large
I’m a big fan of the Rogue FlashBender Large and often have three of them in my gear bag. It’s a 10″ x 11″ flexible panel that straps onto your Speedlite. It can be used as a bounce card, as a flag (blocks light from background), or rolled as a snoot. Rogue makes smaller FlashBenders. The Large is my favorite.
Westcott PocketBox Set
Here’s a value-oriented set of three folding softboxes that will soften the light from your hotshoe flash. The kit includes the PockBox Max (8″ x 12″), the PocketBox Round (8.5″), and the PocketBox Mini 6″ x 7″). The kit also includes a zippered cae and an educational DVD. This is a great way to get started with portable, soft light.
Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite
I confess that I’m really rough on my gear. The contents of my bag are always changing in response to the needs of a specific shoot. When flying, I cram extra gear into a small carry-on roller that goes with me on the plane. All this means that I continue to find new and improved ways to mangle gear. The Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite is one mod that proven its durability again and again. It’s an 8″ square softbox that straps directly onto the head of your Speedlite. The fabric on each side is held tight by a steel band. It folds up and slides into a zippered case for transport. When shooting fast-paced events and in crowded spaces, the Ezybox Speed-lite will create beautiful light just by holding the flash at the end of your arm. Highly recommended.
Dome Diffusers (model specific)
A dome diffuser essentially is a translucent plastic box that you push onto the end of our flash. Nikon includes them with their Speedlights. Canon does not. No biggie. The purpose of the dome diffuser is to intercept light that wants to go forward and turn it sideways so that it can bounce off other nearby surfaces (all this bouncing helps soften the shadows). The little-mentioned secret about dome diffusers is that they consume 2-3 stops of flash. So, if you’re trying to squeeze every photon out of your flash, then pull the dome diffuser off and bounce the light some other way (such as with the Rogue FlashBender Large listed above). Still, I carry a couple of dome diffusers in my Speedlite kit because when used in close to the face, they create dramatic falloff in what is called the “bare-bulb” effect. You’ll need to buy a dome diffuser that is made specifically for your flash.
Strobros Beauty Dish + Grid Set
My favorite Speedlite grid is cobbled together from two kits: the Strobros Mini Beauty Dish and the Strobros Grid/Diffuser kit. The Mini Beauty Dish (certainly an oxymoron as beauty dishes have to be larger than the subject to work) holds the 5″ grids out away from the flashhead. I don’t use the reflector disks that come with the kit as I want the light to fly directly forward to the grid. The grid kit contains three honeycomb grids (roughly 1/4″, 1/8″, and 1/16″). I use the middle and the smaller grid the most. Feel free to toss the thick plastic “filters” that come with the grids. I’ve never found a use for them.
Vello Honeycomb Grids
The Vello Honeycomb Grids sit directly on the face of the flashhead and attach with two strips of velcro. This is a good way to get started with grids, but I find the Strobroas Beauty Dish stays in place better and that it’s faster to change grids. Still, when space is a concern, I switch out to the flat grids as they are more compact and easier to cram into a corner of my kit.
Rogue Grid Kit
The folks at Rogue have come up with an innovative way to use two grids to create three difference spread patterns (45º, 25º, and when used together, 16º). The grids are held slightly off the face of the flashhead by a flexible strap. Rogue also sells a gel kit made specifically for use with their grids (which is a handy combination).
I’ve tried every way to gel Speedlites. It ultimately gets down to how quickly can I get the gel on/off and how sloppy I can be in placing the gel. The reasons for both of these expectations is that when gelling fill flash at sunset, I often have to change the gel to follow the increasing warmth of the sunlight. So, I’ve become a big fan of the Honl Speedstrap—which is a fuzzy strap that you stretch around the head of your flash. Honl gels (or gels that you make yourself) have hooked strips along the edges that tightly hold onto the fuzzy Speedstrap. I also use the Honl Speedstrap when using the Vello Honeycomb Grids listed above.
Honl Color Gels / Filter Kit
The advantage of using Honl gels (which they call “filters”) is that they are large enough to fit over the fat head of Canon’s and Nikon’s largest Speedlights. This is important to me because a wmall gap between the gel and the flash will throw white light into the shot. Use the color correction gels to make your Speedlite look like a different type of light (CTO = tungsten, CTB = shade)). Use the color effects gels to create dramatic effects. Buy the sampler kit and you’ll get one of each gel (color correction and color effects).
Rogue Gel Kit
Rogue has assembled a wide range of color correction and color effects gels into a well-packaged kit that includes a case and dividers. The gels are large enough to easily work the large Speedlights. They attach to the flash via a rubber band (which is actually black in the kit, but I used blue here to make it easier to see).
Rogue Master Lighting Kit
Here’s an easy way to get all of the Rogue flash accessories: three FlashBenders, the diffuser for the FlashBender Large, the grid kit, and two gel kits (for the grid kit and direct attachment).
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