Light modifiers are devices that can improve the lighting in photos. Whether a scene has ambient or artificial light, you can use a light modifier to achieve a particular mood. With modifiers, you're able to highlight something important in a scene, soften harshness, or flatter a subject. Modifiers can be freestanding, handheld, or designed to fit over a camera lens. Some are collapsible and portable, while others require space and careful handling.
Light shapers are devices that bend light into particular forms. They fit over studio lights to allow for more control over the size and direction of light. Barndoors create an effect like light coming through a partially open doorway. Snoots and grids are used to keep light focused in a more specific direction. Light shapers are useful for highlighting small areas such as hair or one part of a large scene. Keep in mind that some light shapers are heavy, and may be a little more challenging to use.
When you need to minimize shadows, turn to reflector boards and reflecting umbrella lights. These accessories bounce light off surfaces, softening, diffusing, or redirecting it. Use absorbers when reflection isn't necessary or wanted. Absorbers are black reflectors that deepen dark areas of the composition by filtering reflections. Use these modifiers when the light of your flash would be too harsh for your subject.
Diffusers soften light by scattering it over an area larger than the source light. They can be softboxes, translucent panels, umbrella diffusers, or filters, which are all units that fit over the larger light. You can also get this effect using diffuser lenses on your camera. Diffusion is hard to manage, so use these modifiers for tight pictures, such as portraits, where you have more control of the size of your composition.
Whether you're a professional or a hobbyist, studio lighting kits can be quite helpful for your shoots. Kits often include the two major types of lighting: studio flash kits and kits with strobe lighting. The kits come with a lighting source and accessories. Kits can include light modifying devices such as lighting projection lenses, reflectors, or studio umbrella lights. There are kits in a range of prices and complexity to accommodate all experience levels.
Light modifiers are critical when achieving the perfect photograph. Regardless of your level of expertise, you can learn and explore more with B&H Photo and Video's extensive inventory and customer support.