Lightbanks to Go
There is no denying that over time shoe-mount flash units have become increasingly more sophisticated and now feature built-in electronic links that make producing correctly exposed images, even under outdoor or difficult lighting conditions, much, much easier. While the exposure accuracy and quantity of output from on-camera flash have increased, one factor that’s changed little is the quality of the light these units produce. Sure you can always rubber band an index card to the flash head to act as a bounce “kicker” and some speedlights even built-in slide out reflectors—no rubber band required. If you want to soften and broaden the light source you’re going to need something bigger and better. These kinds of lighting modifiers are available from many different sources including Flashpoint Q-series, Booth Photographic, LumiQuest, and others.
Booth Photographic’s Mini/Max is a family of easy to use and inexpensive light modulating products that include small, on-flash lightbanks and even a pair of replacements for that rubber band and index card. The Mini/Max family consists of two lightbanks that fit your shoe-mount flash: The bigger (6 x 8-inch) BHB model has a large front panel for “more dramatic effects” and the (3.5 x 4.75-inch) QLB features a smaller sized front panel for quick and easy shooting. The lightbanks attach easily and fold flat for storage. Both follow the old rule that the bigger the light source and the closer it is to the subject creates more diffused lighting while reducing hot spots and softening shadows. Image courtesy Booth Photographic.
While waiting for a model to arrive for a shoot (she never did make it, so this is one of only two frames I captured that day) I made this test shot of Mary in our living room using two windows for backlighting and a Mini/Max 6 x 8-inch BHB lightbank attached to a Canon 550 EX flash as the main light. It was captured in Tv mode with an EOS 50D and EF 28-135mm IS lens. Exposure was 1/30 sec at f/4 and ISO 400 because I wanted to pick up the backlighting and the ambient light in the room as well. ©2011 Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
You can use these small lightbanks outdoors too. Mary photographed Caitlyn outdoors using an Olympus E-30 and Digital Zuiko 14-54mm zoom lens with an exposure of 1/160 at f/6.3 and ISO 125. A Mini/Max 6 x 8-inch BHB lightbank was attached to an Olympus E-50R flash unit that produced the main light. ©2011 Mary Farace, All Rights Reserved
One of the most clever design aspects of some small lightbanks, such as the Mini/Max is that they have flaps in their top and bottom that can be opened for multi-directional lighting effects when working indoors. You can use these flaps to add bounce lighting off a wall or ceiling depending on the orientation of the camera and flash or you can use the lightbank as bounce and open the flap to aim semi-direct light at your subject.
Joe is author of the new book, “Studio Lighting Anywhere,” that’s available from Amazon.com and all of the usual suspects.