Are you curious about studio gear? We will try and enlighten you, show what it looks like, explain advantages and when and how to use it. We’ll also give you some examples.
It’s preferable to attach something to your studio strobes in order to enable different lighting effects. When buying accessories you need to make sure it fits your strobes. Some strobes have Elinchrom or Bowens bayonets, otherwise the strobes have a brand specific solutions, often needing accessories with screws for connecting to the strobes. There are also different adapters available on the market.
You also need to ensure that the accessories are not too heavy for the strobes, stands and holders. Most of the time lighter accessories and bayonet fittings are preferable, especially in a home studio, where you may want to set up your equipment and put it away when you are done.
A soft box is basically a textile box, black on the outside and reflecting on the inside, with a diffusing cloth in the front. It often also has a smaller clothe in the inside, closer to the strobe. The larger the softbox is, the softer light.
An octagon is the same as a softbox, though octagonal instead of square. They are also often a bit larger.
A grid is often used in front of the accessory and will help to direct the light a little more. One of the features is that you can achieve a sharper difference between your main light and other light sources. Grids are often available in textile for softboxes or in plastic or metal for different kind of dishes.
Honeycombs are grids that look like and got its name from the content of a beehive. It directs light and decreases stray light.
An umbrella is exactly that. It can either be reflecting, giving an effect almost similar to a beauty dish, or diffusing with results similar to a softbox. They are also compact to carry and store, as well as inexpensive. They can however produce different result depending on how close to the flash you put them. They are also perfect accessories for ordinary on-camera flashes.
The beauty dish is a rather large tray shaped reflector, often with a shield for the flasch inside, blocking the direct light. It is also equipped with a honeycomb grid. The effect is a rather focused light that is popular to use by fashion and portrait photographers, why it probably got its name.
Standard reflectors are a bit smaller than the beauty dish. You can use them directly at the motive, with honeycombs or diffusing covers or against reflecting screens or walls. Standard reflectors are quite useful and you should consider buying them with your studio strobes.
Barn doors are an accessory with four leaves and often come with different attachments, such as gel extenders for coloured effects. It’s useful for directing light and shaping a beam, achieving effects like light coming in from a window or a door. It can also be used with coloured gels to create effects on backgrounds or similar.
A snoot is a funnel looking attachment that really concentrates light into a specific area. It is useful for putting lustre in hair and sometimes for showing the texture on clothing in fashion photography. Something that is especially useful for black clothes.
Reflectors are used to reflect light from flashes or the sun. They often come in white, silver, gold and black, though the black ones are used to prevent light from reflecting. In studios gold is almost never used, since it produces a yellow colour cast on the motive. Outdoors however, it produces a really nice warm light. Silver or white is mostly about how much light you want to reflect.
Both reflectors and diffusers are inexpensive and very useful for outdoor portrait shooting, but also in a studio.