Those of you who use on-camera flash might be interested to hear of a relatively new product called the Hughes Soft Light Reflector. This light modifier, made by Jerry Hughes, joins the ranks of Gary Fong’s Whale Tail and Lightsphere, and a homemade foam modifier created by Ron Jackson, a frequent contributor to the OurPPA.com community.
The Soft Light Reflector has many advantages, the most obvious of which is portability. The Soft Light will fold up or lay flat, and can be stuffed into your pocket or nearly any nook or cranny of a camera bag. It comes out ready to install on your on-camera flash quickly and easily.
The Soft Light attaches with two pieces of Velcro that you stick to your flash and to corresponding spots on the Soft Light to attach it. If you're hesitant to stick Velcro on your flash, Hughes provides a Velcro strap that simply wraps around both the head of the flash and the Soft Light.
I took a test photos using on-camera flash with no diffusion or modifier at all, on-camera flash with built-in diffuser, Gary Fong’s Lightsphere, Jackson’s foam, and the Soft Light Reflector.
All of the test images are jpeg files converted straight from the raw images with no retouching and no adjustments of any kind. I shot all of the images vertically, with the flash on a bracket so it was above the lens for each image. Each exposure was at f/5.6 for 1/60 second, ISO 100. The only thing that changed in each image was the light modifier.
The Soft Light Reflector provided the best results in this test, yielding softer shadows and the most flattering light. The Lightsphere gave a color cast to the images, the foam created some harsh shadows in this test, and the built-in diffuser also created some harsh shadows.
Hughes Soft Light Reflector
At weddings, the Soft Light Reflector was easy to use and provided some good modification to on-camera flash that can sometimes be very harsh. The Lightsphere is bulky, falls off the flash easily, and has a tendency to invoke remarks from guests. The foam is very easy to use at weddings, lightweight and flexible, but does not seem to inspire much confidence in wedding guests who see nothing but a piece of foam attached to the flash with a rubber band.
Inventor Jerry Hughes describes his Soft Light Reflector as “a totally unique product for photography,” mostly because of its flexibility. Most light modifiers are not very flexible. Umbrellas and light shades all have basically one shape, while the Soft Light Reflector can be bent into different directions.
The Soft Light Reflector comes resonably priced at $29.95. You can purchase one at www.takegreatphotos.com.
This example uses a technique where you bounce the flash into the Soft Light, then against a wall, then into the subject.
Hughes provided the following diagrams that illustrate the technique. Click for a larger view.