Before you read this, if you don’t have a speedlight or DSLR camera, check out the bottom of this post for info on some cool accessories for point and shoot cameras. Anyone can improve his or her picture taking abilities just by having a few of the right gadgets!
Awhile ago, I was browsing my fave online supply store, www.vistek.ca, for lighting accessories and I stumbled upon this handy little gadget called a Lightsphere. It is a special diffuser designed by Gary Fong (a well-known photographer) and, in a nutshell, it virtually eliminates the need for expensive studio lighting. At the time, I was looking to purchase a starter lighting kit for my boudoir shoots and was thinking that I would be spending anywhere between $1800 and $3000, so imagine my pleasant surprise when I found the Lightsphere. (Okay, maybe it was a tad more than pleasant surprise. Maybe it was more like I jumped out of my chair, danced around my office and started singing, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could order, something that would cost a whole lot less, and still wow all my boudoir clients, make sure that they all left here impressed…” to the tune of the Beach Boys Wouldn’t It Be Nice) The point is that the Lightsphere is amazingly affordable at only $53.95 CDN for a single sphere with a diffuser dome attachment. The entire Pro kit is only $215 CDN (it comes with two spheres, clear and cloudy, two regular domes, an amber dome and a chrome dome, plus an extra mounting kit). Compare that to a $2000 studio set and it’s a no brainer. So I splurged and bought the Pro kit. Yep, that’s me, biiiiiiiig spender!
Here’s a shot of what it looks like.
When I received my package from Vistek and eagerly opened it up, I noticed that it was shipped with an instructional DVD, so I grabbed a camera and a speedlight and popped the DVD in. I watched approximately 15 minutes of the DVD (all about how to shoot with the Lightsphere indoors) and then shut it off and started playing around with it. I FELL INSTANTLY IN LOVE and kicked myself that I hadn’t bought one sooner.
The funny thing about instructional DVD’s, though, is that a person should really watch them completely before jumping in with both feet!
Weeks later, I happened to notice the DVD sitting under a pile of stuff under my desk and I popped it into my computer with the intention of rewatching the tutorial to see if I’d pick up anything new. Hey, there’s a whole segment on here about outdoor photography using the Lightsphere. No way! Or should I say, Duuuuuhhhh.
This little piece of plastic helps to make good outdoor shots AWESOMETASTIC outdoor shots. I can’t believe I skipped that part of the DVD. So, kicking myself a little, I took a sphere out during a hike with my hubby, brother and sister-in-law yesterday, just to see how much of a difference it can make. WOWZAS!
Here is a comparison of two photos of Juno that I shot with all the same settings (aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, etc.), except that I used the flash in TTL with the Lightsphere for the picture on the right.
The Lightsphere completely changed the photo. It put a catchlight in his eyes and lifted the shadows so you can actually see the color and depth of his eyes too. It also warmed everything up a little and really gave more life to him, as well as boosting the contrast. I didn’t really notice a difference in my camera, but once I downloaded the images, I was totally impressed.
So, long story short, if you have a speedlight and want your photos to look amazing instead of just good, go out and buy one of these inexpensive and, in my opinion, must have pieces of lighting equipment.
And, if you’re interested in creating better photos and all you have is a small Digital SLR (like a Canon Rebel or Nikon D60 or something) and no speedlight to mount on it, Gary Fong makes a pop up flash diffuser called the Puffer and it is incredibly effective in improving your photos too. I know this because I ordered one for Greg’s camera and it rocks. Fong also makes a diffuser for point and shoots, called a Delta Point and Shoot Flash Diffuser. You can get any of these at www.vistek.ca (just search for “puffer” and “delta”).
Here are a few more pics from our hike, although they have nothing to do with the learning side of today’s blog!
Greg and Molly discuss life while Mike (who was sick with a cold) just trudges along, feeling icky! Good job bro, you’re a trooper!!! This was shot without flash of the Lightsphere.