Cheapskate Tuesday 9: Black Foam flag/snoot

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Note: this post/idea is owed entirely to Neil van Niekerk, an extremely talented wedding and portrait photographer. It is, in fact, his famous “Black Foamie Thing“. Please do visit his site, as I do not have the talent to really do the subject justice! I merely present the idea, with a few examples, and send you on along to his blog, where you can feast your eyes on his excellent results.

The black foamie thing is  mainly with an on-camera speedlight, but it can also be taken off camera or used for other cold lights. It has several uses:

1) to flag something, that is, to block direct light from a light source spilling on a subject or a distracting background object.

2) to shape light. It can be used as a flag, or rolled into a “snoot” or used to direct bounce flash in one direction only.

3) for walk-around bounce flash use, it can be used to control spill so as not to annoy people (such as at social functions).

Below is one way to make it:

The material are some self-adhesive velcro and one sheet of black foamie material, the same stuff as used in the Cheapskate Diffuser Mark II:

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First, cut a piece of velcro to go along one long edge.  Stick it there.

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Cut four more smaller pieces, two hook and two loop.

Stick them in the middle of the shorter edge, on alternating sides. This will allow the foamie to form a tight snoot around the flash head.

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Done!

Here Catherine is modelling the flag in the “flag your subject position”. Her subject is a spider (appropriate!). Note how the direct flash does not fall on the subject, although the flash is on the camera.  Instead the subject gets a nice even illumination.

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Catherine modelling the “flag subject, light from the side (window light) position”. Note that she is a bit too close to the wall to get a nice large “window” light…Did I mention Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to rent in?

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Catherine uses the black foamie thing in snoot configuration, showing the tight beam. This could be used off camera, perhaps as a rim light or hair light.

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Here are some shots demonstrating the effects of the flag, starting with “window light, camera right”

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Window light camera left:

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Flag the subject, illuminate from above (note how there is some specular highlight in her glasses from the low ceiling, though the lighting is flat left to right):

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Here is a composite of three  examples taken using two speeedlights with black foamie thing in snoot configuration, behind and to either side of each of these feathers in turn:

There are other ways to make and use these things, and even some commercial products which do the same thing. It can be a helpful tool to have around, and seeing as it costs 2 bucks, it is a good project for Cheapskate Tuesday.