Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Using a "Snoot" for emphasis

What's A Snoot?

Imagine you're taking an indoor picture but want to use lighting draw attention to just the subject. You reach for your flash and attach it to your camera. What do you expect that you'll see?

Probably very even lighting. Manufacturers go to great lengths to balance the spread of the light coming from the flash so that it illuminates the whole frame. Hmmm, That not really what we want in this case, so what do we do?

Enter one of the most elegantly simple device to modify your flash, The "Snoot". Its basically a tube that you place on your flash to focus the beam where you want it. The one I have , by Honlphoto, wraps around your camera flash and attaches with velcro.

This model costs about 30 bucks, has a shiny inside and a flat black outside and is very well made. You could probably make your own for much cheaper, but this one looks like something a professional would use. Below is a test shot I made to illustrate the shape of the light beam as it hits the flat wall. Pretty cool!

Now lets put it to use: In this shot, I'm trying to get the effect of a glow coming from this young boy's new phone. I used the snoot and the off camera flash, handheld by an assistant. The eerie blue glow comes from another off camera flash with a blue filter on it, and bouncing off the cieling. Have a look and tell me what you think?

One thing I'll mention is that the size of the spot is related to the aspect ratio, or the diameter to length ratio. A smaller diameter on a longer length will give you a smaller spot and allow you to keep your distance away from your subject. This is also true for grids or home-made "black straw snoots. More on that later. For now, get out your camera and go take some pictures!

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