Gadgets

Photography is known to be gadget-rich. Lots of stuff. There’s even a term for it – GAS – as in Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

When you light, as is my preference, GAS seems to proceed exponentially.

I mention this as I acquired a new modifier, the Bruce Dorn Select Asymmetrical Stripbox. Now that’s a mouthful. 

The purpose of a light modifier is to, well, modify the shape and character of the light source (in my case, strobe). When we describe light, we speak of color (it’s temperature, often expressed in degrees Kelvin – daylight is approximately 5500º), quality (the transition between highlight and shadow), and intensity (how bright).

In this case, it is a soft box; the term soft meaning that it’s aim is to provide a gradient in the transition from highlight to shadow. It’s also narrow, so that’s why it’s called a strip. How soft it is determined by how close it is to the subject – a light source becomes soft when it is large relative to what it is lighting. So this particular light modifier aims to change the character of the light as well as its shape – soft and linear.

The above-mentioned soft box is unusual in that the flash head is offset to one side of the box (whereas most soft boxes have the head in the middle). The reason for this is to use it as both key and fill – rather than the light coming evenly over the face of the box, which is generally desirable, this unit has a brighter area at one end of the box. Interesting concept and one that caught my attention. 

Living dangerously, I was scanning the used equipment on B&H’s website when I came across it. I was intrigued, as it folds up into a relatively small bag (it’s 18″x42″ when set up); the bag is 15″x8″ and designed for travel.

Of course I had to try it out on some willing subjects (willing meaning the allure of doggie treats):

For these, the box was set lengthwise camera left, so as to light their faces with the brightest part of the box and light their body with what remains. I was really pleased with the light character the box produced in this application.

However, the box was designed for humans (specifically wedding photographers, as the idea was to use it vertically for bridal portraits and horizontally for couple shots where the groom receives less illumination than the bride). I again used it horizontally in a broad lighting setup with some fill.

No treats were required, although I did buy lunch.

The box was angled here so the fill was minimal; flattening it out relative to the subject would have provided more, but I liked this rendition.

You’ll also note how I treated the background. There are all kinds of decisions to make when lighting and setting exposure – including the ambient light. I purposely went for a very high key background for Kindera, above, and went very low key for the dogs.

All-in-all I thought it a good purchase. You generally have to spend a lot of time with a modifier to understand it and how to work with it. Having a lot of gear can work against this, so it is definitely a balancing act. But, having gear means the ability to attack any situation creatively and effectively (especially if you shoot product, which I do).

As usual, technical details on flickr.

This entry was posted in Photo Shoot, Technique.