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Flash Modifiers

Lesson 5 from: Introduction to Flash for Beauty Images

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

5. Flash Modifiers

Next Lesson: Lighting Styles

Lesson Info

Flash Modifiers

Well let's talk about some of the flash modifiers, and we'll start talking about what you might need here. The whole purpose of a flash modifier is to increase the size of the flash. Okay, increase the size of the output of light. And I brought a few of my favorites, so let's talk through them. The first one is a soft box. I love shooting with soft boxes. They're rectangular or square typically. You can see this here's a 2 foot x 3 foot soft box. Soft boxes are some of the more expensive pieces of equipment that you're gonna buy, but they are excellent. So back to the question earlier today, should I buy the f/1.8 lens or the f/1.4 lens? Buy the f/1.8 lens and then spend your money on a soft box or two. If you want to shoot this type of photography, small modifiers, the little ones that are like 9 inches x 12 inches, that ain't gonna cut it. So bigger is better for this scenario. A 2 foot x 3 foot is the bare minimum. If you can afford it we're gonna go for bigger. Here's a 3 foot x 4 ...

foot. I love shooting with these big light modifiers. They give you a lot of flexibility. The light kind of wraps all around the subject. You don't have to buy ProPhoto. I like ProPhoto because they're very good and over the years I just, I like owning the best. I've been doing this a long time so I've had the chance to acquire this over time. But I also know that when you're starting out sometimes you don't wanna pay $300 or $ for one of these types of things. So, you can find other soft boxes that are much less. So those are soft boxes. Another option for you, in fact, the most affordable way to get the looks that we're after today, is to shoot with an umbrella. So I brought a couple of umbrellas to show. This is what I would call a standard size umbrella, and it's about 42 inches, it's a little bit bigger than 3 feet. And this works for kind of really close type of photographs. So the subject, you know, one subject maybe kind of a few feet away from this umbrella. So this could work for today. In fact, we'll try it. And you'll see that sometimes it's just not quite big enough though. Sometimes we get a little bit too, the shadows are a little bit too harsh. It doesn't wrap enough. So for this type of work, for the beauty photography type of work, I lik having a giant umbrella. This umbrella here is about a 5 and a half footer, maybe almost 6 foot. I'm 6 feet tall. Yeah, not quite 6 feet. So it's about 5 and a half feet. Get a 5 or 6 or 7 foot diameter umbrella and the world is your oyster. I mean, you can do fantastic work with this type of umbrella. And they're not expensive. I paid $79 for this on our favorite online shopping site. So, you too, you too can get it. And I just recommend white. Just get a white reflector. We'll talk a little bit today about silver and gold, but 90% of what you need is just with the white reflector. We're gonna use this today, and the quality of light that it produces is spectacular. And it's, again, it's about the size. Size matters with your light modifiers. Bigger is almost always better for this type of work. So nice big umbrellas. Buy them online, buy them at your local camera store. I know locally here the camera store sells these. And I also recommend buying local, support your local camera stores. The idea with the flash modifiers, is like I say here on the screen, is that the idea is to have really soft light. You want to de-emphasize skin blemishes. You want to de-emphasize, for this type of lighting, shadows. So bigger just helps that light wrap all around. Another idea for you, we gotta think about reflectors, okay? You can do a lot of work with reflectors. In fact, I'm gonna shoot today using a reflector as pretty much the only light, right? I'm gonna shine a flash into a reflector and then use a reflector on the other side. So reflectors are cheap, $30? So you get two of 'em, $60, and you've got yourself a little studio. Reflectors are great. Get the 5-in-1, so you got silver and gold and different colors. Again, 90% of your shots are just gonna be white. When you need to add a little more oomph and pizazz you put the sparky, shiny side on. And then the next thing I talk about, our beauty dishes here. And I'm not gonna pull this one out all the way because it's on a C-stand, which is very heavy. But I'll just pull this out so you can see what we've got. Okay, so this is, it's not technically a beauty dish, but it's very similar look to a beauty dish. It was made by Phottix, it's called the Raja 65, and it's a round light setup. Beauty dishes are typically round. I like that look for a nice clean round catch light in the eye. And we'll shoot a picture or two with this today just to show how this works in maybe like a clamshell lighting scenario. You can do everything we're doing today with just an umbrella. In fact, I would encourage you to just maybe even start with umbrella. That's how I started. You learn a lot by shooting with umbrellas. And then as time goes on you can kind of build your kit out. But you can do great beauty shots with simple lighting and not too expensive. So we talked about the umbrella, the soft box, and the beauty dish. We'll move onto reflectors. White accomplishes most of what you need. Silver, if you're just gonna buy one reflector and you don't want to spend $30, you only wanna spend $20, well then just get white on one side and silver on the other. And then gold, not so much. Very rarely do you use a gold reflector. You know, if you need someone to look really tan, then you can use the gold. But often the gold, to me, makes the photo look a little bit too fake. How about the backgrounds? You're gonna need some type of backdrop for this. And it's gotta be white. I recommend white. So I've got this really cool background stand. This is called seamless paper. I'll come over here. Seamless works well. You can buy seamless rolls from your local camera store. You can also buy 'em online, and they're about $40, $ for a whole role of seamless paper. Why is it called seamless? Well, there's no seams, right? And so you can just have someone sit up against it. You can roll the seamless out on the floor, and so then you have kind of this infinity sweep in the background. Really inexpensive way to have a nice backdrop, and then when it gets all torn up and dirty you literally just cut it with a razor blade or scissors and then you pull out more paper. But if you don't have that then just go to the craft store and get some paper and literally tape it on the wall. I do stuff like that all the time. Anything that's white and clean will work perfect for this scenario. You can also use muslins. We've got a muslin there in the background. You can get white muslins. You can use sheets like a queen or a king size sheet. Just go online or go to your local retailer and get a sheet. I use that all the time. Just iron it, perfect, works great. I think it'd be good to ask this, this is going back to lenses, we got a couple questions about crop sensors and using like a 50 with a crop sensor 'cause that's effectively gonna be, so can you explain that? And is that a good idea? Or should people with crop sensors still shoot 80 mm? Yeah, good. I should have clarified that earlier. When I was talking those focal lengths, really what I'm talking about is in reference to a full frame camera. And so if you're shooting with a crop sensor something like a Canon 60D or a Nikon let's say a D7500 or something like that, in those cases you can use a and that puts you out at 75, 75 mm, and that gets close for that focal length that we're after. So just multiple everything by about 1.5. Whatever lens you're working, about 1.5 times that to get to that 85 to 100 mm range. Cool.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Beauty Images Lighting Diagrams
Gear List for $100 Budget
Gear List for $250 Budget
Gear List for $1000 Budget

Ratings and Reviews


Practical, informative, affordable instruction that’s easy to understand and leaves you excited to jump into the studio with a single flash and whatever you have on hand .. soft boxes, umbrellas, v flats or even a bunch of cheap reflectors. Mike is a superb instructor. Highly recommend.


Really good. Superb teacher. Bought it. Worth the money.


Loving this class so far! The instructor is amazing

Student Work