I’ve been using this relatively simple little lighting setup while shooting on location for a while now and have suggested it to a couple photog friends. After trying it out, most of them come back singing its praises, so I figured I would pass it along here as well. This is an extremely easy way to add dimension and direction to your light, all the while diffusing it for a softer effect. I call it: Fong on a Stick!
Now, I know some people curse the dreaded “tupperware bowl” that is the Gary Fong Lightsphere, but there are also those who swear by it. I happen to fall somewhere in between. Is it the be-all answer for diffused lighting? Not even close! Do I like walking around an event with a big white bowl on top of my flash? Not at all! Do I like the results I get from it? Obviously. Otherwise why would I be walking around with this stupid thing on my flash?
The issue that most people have with the lightsphere is the cost ($70 for a plastic bowl, some velcro and a rubber band?!?!). I like to try and build my own “knockoff” of a product using inexpensive materials before laying out $50 or more, but this is one of those things that I wasn’t able to quite get right. The ridges inside the lightsphere serve to spread and diffuse the light in a way that I wasn’t able to replicate in my homemade attempts, so I ended up forking over the $$ to buy one. And it just so happens to be the lynchpin in the setup below. I guess that is stating the obvious… It would have been weird if I called it Fong on a Stick and then used an umbrella.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- External Flash
- Gary Fong Lightsphere
- Wireless flash trigger or built-in flash capable of triggering an external flash
- Small flash stand (if using built-in flash for triggering)
Simply thread the flash stand (pictured above) or wireless trigger to the monopod and attach your flash to it. Then mount the lightsphere on to your flash. Have an assistant hold the contraption and direct them as to where you want your light source to come from. If you don’t have someone available to hold the monopod, you could could always substitute it for a tripod (but that isn’t quite as versatile).
The end result is a magic light stick capable of all sorts of creative lighting. In fact, all of the images in this previous post – https://mnrdphoto.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/esession-michelle-george/ – were taken using this surprisingly flexible tool.