Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have a Leibovitz Day: Lighting with a Softlighter II

I have become a big fan of the Softlighter II. It's an umbrella with a diffuser sheet at the front that takes both strobes and shoe mount flashes. It can even be used as a shoot through umbrella. I have the SL-5000. (it's the medium sized) It takes a few minutes to assemble and gives about 11 sq feet of light surface. With a Canon 580ex II and the silver reflector inside I get a guide number of about 40 ( f4 at 10 feet at 100 ISO).

I mostly use it outdoor, mounted on a boom or a light stand, both as a fill or as a main light. It seems quite durable, and a bargain for the price (less than $100). I am not the only one to like it, as apparently Annie Leibovitz is a fan. (or at least she uses something VERY similar here and here). The smaller softlighter is perfect for indoor shots. I like the different looks I can achieve with it.

Lower image: This punchy shot was taken on a sunny afternoon on a silver painted roof. Sun is coming from top left and the Softlighter is one foot to the left of the model (Hey Hiroko!), on a boom being held by an assistant (hey Dave). Shot at ISO 100 1/125th, 32mm f11. The Canon flash was firing at 3/4 power.

Top Image: This set up, which drew inspiration from some of Annie Liebovitz work, was taken at sunset, the Softlighter is at camera left held high above the two models at about 10 feet. (Robin, ModelMayhem #380658 and Gene). ISO 100, 1/160th 24mm f4.0. The image palette and contrast have been modified a bit with PS. Flash at half power.

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