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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Accessories For A Minimalist

The essential equipment for those who aspire to lightening up


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Rogue FlashBender
Lights
Monolights and accessory flash units give you a lot of versatility whether you're on location or in the studio. Accessory flash units, in particular, give you complete freedom from AC power, which allows you to move these small lights into just about any position. If you're shooting something particularly large, like a car, these small lights won't be a good option, but for a lot of professional work, a single case with a few monolights and a few accessory flash units offer you the right combination of power and versatility.

Continuous lights also can fit into the minimalist way of doing things. LED panels have become a popular option as their output has increased. They're lightweight and easy to travel with. LED strips are relatively new to the professional still shooter. They give you the ability to get light into tricky spots without having a bulky light source. HMI and fluorescent lights also can be good options, especially if you're shooting HD video. HMI lights are nice because they're self-contained. Fluorescents usually have a ballast, which makes them somewhat less compact, but like all continuous lights, they give you the ability to go from still to HD video without having to change all of your lighting equipment.

Light Modifiers
Any lighting solution you choose must have a lot of modifiers available. It's modifiers that help you shape the light and give you control. Minimalist photographers make full use of modifiers before resorting to setting up multiple lights. Essential modifiers, regardless of your light source, include grids, barn doors, a selection of gobos and some device to soften the light. Softboxes and umbrellas have been standards for a long time, and for some light kits, they're still the most useful. For minimalist photographers using accessory flash units, the Rogue FlashBender and the Honl Speed Snoot are examples of simple tools that can control the light in infinite ways. Controlling the light from a single source is almost always preferable to setting up another source.

Gels for the light source fall into the realm of critical modifiers, as well. You can use colored gels for balancing color temperatures, although with white balance built into the camera, that's less common today than it once was. Still, gels are incredibly useful as creative tools, and they take up almost no space.

Filters
The biggest problem with the "fix it in post" mentality is that it can be very inefficient. Post work should be concentrated on aspects of the image that couldn't have been shot differ-ently. To get things right on the set, you should always have a set of filters with you. NDs, variable NDs, split NDs and polarizers, in particular, are indispensable. These filters change the light balance in a photograph, which is difficult and sometimes impossible to accomplish in Photoshop.

Stands, Clips, Clamps And Tape
Just about every problem on the set can be solved with a stand, clip, clamp or tape. You probably have a grip bag with these items, but no matter how many you have, even a minimalist can do with more. These are the ultimate fix-it items during a shoot, and they make up for a lot of other equipment that you'd use only occasionally.

 

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