A Beginners Guide to Light Modifiers

A Beginners Guide to Light Modifiers

Trish Murray

A Beginners Guide to Light Modifiers

If you are fairly new to photography, or you just haven’t had the chance to use light modifiers in the past you will benefit from this information.

As we all know, light isn’t always available in the best form or amount often times when we are photographing.  This is why you will want to learn to use light modifiers in order to train the light that you have in any direction that you wish.

There are a variety of light modifiers that you can choose from.  The first couple of questions that you will want to ask yourself are “What kind of light am I trying to replicate?” and “What kind of mood or vibe am I going for?” 

Now for example, if you are wanting to create soft light one of your options is an umbrella.  An umbrella creates a quality of light that is soft and abundant.  These are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

However, if you don’t need the light to be spread out everywhere then an umbrella is not the best fit.

Another option for creating soft light is a softbox.  It is another low-cost and easy to use option that you can control and use to spotlight your subject matter.  This modifier recreates the effect of soft daylight through a window.

A third option is to use a collapsible disc reflector.  A disc reflector is the most versatile of the three modifiers we’ve talked about because it is light weight and can be moved around easily.  The size and shape of the reflector and where you place the light will determine the quality of lighting.  Most of the time you will use a reflector with an assistant who will hold the reflector, or you can use it on a light stand. 

Versatility is often the name of the game when it comes to choosing a light modifier.  This is why the beauty dish is such a popular piece of equipment.  A beauty dish gives you a more circular, soft-contrast light which allows you to define the face and the bone structure such as cheekbones or to create a distinct reflection in your model’s eyes. 

If you’re looking for a two in one variety of modifier then you will like the octobox.  It is a combination of a softbox and an umbrella.  It is has soft light like a softbox and spreads that light around like an umbrella.  These are fantastic for lighting large groups evenly. 

This list of light modifiers is just a few of the options for using light modifiers to get the look and feel with lighting in your images that you are looking for even when the natural light you need isn’t available.