I carried out some lighting modifier trials in the studio yesterday to identify the different effects that they have on the same subject. It should be noted that the purpose of the trial was to see the effect on the background and the shadows and so sometimes I had to adjust the power setting on the strobe because modifiers can restrict light output considerably. All were taken against a neutral-grey (50%) background with just one strobe (+modifier) with a white reflector opposite to help fill-in the shadows.
The initial ‘control’ shot was taken with a 70x60cm diffuser softbox. This gave a nice overall light with subtle shadow.
A 40cm beauty dish gave more shadow and its relatively smaller size created more fall-off (seen by the gradient on the background).
Adding a 60 degree honeycomb grid to the beauty dish made little difference to the lighting on the subject but hardly lit the background at all. The power had to be turned up to compensate for the light lost due to the grid.
An 18cm bowl flooded the subject with light and the power had to be turned down considerably. This gave quite a harsh light with strong shadows and strong highlights.
Adding either a large (60 degree) or small (40 degree) honeycomb grid to the bowl made little difference to the subject lighting. Again the power had to be increased and the background received less light.
Adding barn doors to the bowl made virtually no difference – probably due to the close proximity of the light to the subject.
A conical snoot gave, unsurprisingly, a much more focussed light with bright highlights and deep shadows and very little background light.
In conclusion: the beauty dish created an interesting effect although I may need to bring the reflector closer to the subject to slightly reduce the harshness of the shadows. The conical snoot created a dramatic effect and so I’ll be working with both of these modifiers more in the future. The bowl modifier created quite a harsh light whichever modifier was used and for close-up work is probably not going to be used much on its own. However if I make a scrim diffuser it may create some interesting gradient light. But that’s a trial for another day.