March 24, 2011

DIY: Diffusion Panels

This was my first DIY project which still exceeds the rest by its versatility and bang for a buck.

I currently have two frames of about 4'x7' made of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipes and joints.  I use these to stretch either diffusion/reflection screens made of white rip-stop nylon or a black canvas screen.  As I mentioned before,  build process is well documented on the Internet. Here is the necessary attribution to Dean Collins' tinker tubes with some BTS videos of this great guy. 

This is what my panels look like.

March 18, 2011

Shoot-through Umbrella vs PBL Photo Studio 40" Reflective Umbrella Softbox

I was intrigued by PBL Photo Studio 40" Reflective Umbrella Softbox promise:
  • round catch-lights in the model's eyes;
  • tight light control, just like a softbox;
  • about $30 for two!
The softbox not only delivers on promise, but also offers:
  • more than adequate fit and finish;
  • extremely fast setup - front diffuser is permanently stitched to the umbrella, so all you need to do to set the softbox is to open umbrella and install the flash;
  • full access to flash controls because only the head protrudes into the softbox.
  • light emitting surface is flat thus making light more directional than shoot-through umbrella.
On the downside:
  • When used bare, flash hot spot is way too prominent - I had to use a snap-on diffuser to achieve adequate light uniformity.  As a result almost two stops of light are lost.
  • The stem is unnecessarily long and I almost poked my model when I tried to position the softbox close to her face.  I then had to cut off 5" of the stem.
  • (minor) the stem is round - I really like an octagonal shape of the 43" double fold umbrella which prevents it from rotation.
Here is a comparison of light given off by a 43" double fold umbrella and a 40" umbrella softbox.  The latter, despite having a smaller advertised size, has larger diameter when opened (39" vs 35") because of the smaller curvature.  I am totally sold!  I am ready to pay 2 light stops for tight light control and round catch-lights.


Right before I published this summary I found this video review.
Edit: Check out Zack Arias' Shoot Through Umbrella vs. Softbox

March 17, 2011

FlashBus in San Jose

Flash Bus happened in San Jose and it was amazing! David's methodical approach can teach flashes any poor soul, software engineers included. His and Joe's ability to control AND entertain the crowd will make any politician envious.
I was impressed with uniformity of the equipment used by Mr McNally: nothing but c-stands (really heavy I should say) with beams holding Lastolite Skylite diffusers or flashes on Justin clampsTriGrips and Triflashes made appearance.  The thought that Lastolite rules come to mind.
The crowd was also interesting - never seen so many nerds talking about their gear in one place. ;-)