Studio Lighting: Modifiers


Studio Lighting: Modifiers

13:59 02 July in Photography Blog

Not sure if a beauty dish makes a picture more beautiful? How soft is a soft box? Is an umbrella going to save you from rain? Is a bounce card friendly?

I will spill the light on some light modifiers today.

As you probably know, light travels in all directions from one source. But you can control it, people! It is hard, but it doable.  So light modifiers allow you not only to achieve a certain effects but also point it in a direction you need.

Let’s talk about it.

A light modifier is simply some kind of a structure that you put on your light source and that changes the quality of light. I intentionally made images in black in white for you so it is easier to pay attention to shadow and highlights. And there’s no re-touch as well so you can just see the quality of lighting!

1. A soft box is intended to diffuse the light and make the shadows softer as the light travels through some white cloth – diffusion material. The coverage area depends on the size of a soft box. There are all kinds of soft boxes – regular rectangular one, strip boxes, small soft boxes for speed lights, etc.


The effect is the same – very diffused shadows with indistinct lines. Notice how the shadow falls off under the nose and the neck. You can tell it’s shadow but its border is very soft and diffused.

2. An umbrella is another source of diffused light. You point your strobe into an umbrella, away from your subject. The light bounces off the umbrella and falls on the subject. There are different sizes of umbrellas too and some of them have silver coating (more reflective) or they are just white on the inside. On some of them you can unclip the black part and shoot through, just as an option.


Look at the shadows again and notice how soft they are. Here, they fall off quicker, but the lightened area in bigger.

3. A 7” reflector is very basic light modifier for almost any strobe. It turns out to be a relatively small light source for a person. But it doesn’t mean that it’s very bad, it just means that you will get very hard edged shadows and probably a more defined hot spot.


Look closely and notice how hard the shadows are and how quickly they fall off, look how the shadow line is very defined.

4. A beauty dish is another producer of hard shadows, but they fall off not that quickly and have slightly feathered lines. It is usually of 22 inches in diameter and has a deflector to avoid direct light falling on the subject. So it diffuses light a little bit, but still the shadows will be more defined (vs. shadows from a soft box or an umbrella).


Look at the shadow under the neck. Can you see how the shadow line is less defined comparing to the previous photo?

If you still want to see more details in the shadow, just place a silver or white bounce card underneath your models’ face.


The difference is obvious and you are using only one light!

These are just basic modifiers that you can find in almost any photo studio. But in the lighting it is always about highlights and shadows – how would you like them to be? We have all of these modifiers available at FD Photo Studio so come and try them all. Get creative!



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