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Barndoors vs Grids vs. Snoots, Advice req.
Old 11-25-2002, 11:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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O.K. All wiser, and more knowing photographers, please help me along. I have photogenic powerlights. I also have a couple of three inch and five inch snoots which I have used. I don't have any barndoors, grids or screens.

I love the rim light effect often demonstrated by guys like Rich Markese, Ed Konkle and Wayne Sclesky. My photography skills need further refinement before I reach that level.

But instead of going out and buying stuff I don't need, I would like some advice, if you have it, on what light modifiers might help me get the effect I am looking for.

I am simply trying to obtain that highlighted rim light effect on say the left arm and left leg of a model who is facing the camera without it spilling onto her face.

My photogenic supplier has barn doors, grids, snoots, and diffusers.

Can someone explain, perhaps with an example, of why one would choose a barndoor over a grid? I have surmised that since both limit the directional spill of a light, that the advantage of a barndoor is you can cut the edge of the light with a straight edge and since light spilling from a grid is circular, you might use that for a face spot. But considering I have a three inch snoot, what advantage is there to a grid versus a snoot.

I mean in theory I understand what each is supposed to do, but since in practicality, I haven't yet tried either barndoors or grids, I am a little at a loss to determine the pros and cons of each.

Perhaps those with a little more insight can guide me.

Thanks. Oh, the attached photo was taken with a five foot octodome as the main with a three inch snoot to camera left and to the rear of the subject.

Mark


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Excellent Question, Mark
Old 11-26-2002, 12:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm looking forward to reading the other responses that you get. Rick McDaniel, where are you?

I use Photogenic Powerlights, too. All I can say is get a couple of barn doors. The PL16BD, not the PL16BDK.

For what you are trying to achieve, my thought would be snoots. But I haven't "Been there, done that."

But I did spend a week with Don Blair and he showed us how to "Paint" with light. Using just the barn doors, choked down real close, and turned at 45 degrees, he showed us how to paint a stream of light across a face, and even how to feather the light in front of the face to get it to wrap around the shadow side. It was amazing, I guess it had something to do with reflections off the moisture in the air. You gotta see it to believe it.

I guess this doesn't help you much with your original question about light on legs or shoulders, but what I'm saying is you can't go wrong with the barn doors. If you find you have too many snoots, give me a call, I'm still fabricating mine.

Hope I helped some. Looking forward to reading other responses.

If you would like to see some of Don Blair's images from the time I studied with him, I'll be happy to email a couple to you. I just don't think it's right to post them on a public forum. Imagine rizidtx@aol.com

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Re: Barndoors vs Grids vs. Snoots, Advice req.
Old 11-26-2002, 02:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Mark really the key to the light control you are talking about is learning how to use the edge of the light, or feathering it as some say. Snoots, grids, and barn doors all do much the same....control spill and size. You'll also find it is easier to see what you are getting as far as spillage if you are in a darkened shooting area and turn off all lights except the one you are adjusting. (I realize you probably know that... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]) As for Grids and snoots........... I find the light quality with grids a little different and also easier to combine a barn door with them if you want to knock one edge off but keep in mind you can also do this with a flag if you have a way to clamp one in place or want to buy a C-stand. People also tape foil onto their lights to shape the light. I finally broke down and bought several C-stands after hasseling with other improvised means for a frustratingly long time. The grid sets you will find are not really the best way to go in my experience. They are mostly too wide of a beam. I find 20 degree and below most useful. I mostly use 3, 5, 20 degree grids. Really the difference in snoots and grids is not much and you can do the same with either.

In this picture I used a 20 degree grid about 4 feet from the model and you can see some spill over her shoulder onto her breast. A little too much spill and a little too hot....in my opinion but at least she has nice eyebrows!! Anyway........my 3 cents on the subject. Hope it helps a little.

Jim Lowell
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Some tips.
Old 11-26-2002, 09:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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First, the brand of product will have varying degrees of flexibility and serviceability, as not all grids/barn doors/etc., are created equal.

The Photogenic monolight accessories have some limitations, and as long as you understand those limitations, they can be useful tools.

First, snoots are best used to concentrate the light in a small confined area. often they are used for hairlighting, since the length of the snoot usually prevents flare into the camera lens, when properly used.

Second, barndoors are used to allow the light to "fall-off", gradually, as the light spills from the edge of the barn door. That facilitates reducing light from areas of brightness (white clothing), while allowing the light to fully hit primary subjects (faces). Barn doors can be adjusted to "slits" and rotated, to allow a diagonal light pattern. They are very useful tools.

Grid spots, however, are often misunderstood. The main advantage of a grid spot, is that you can not only light a concentrated area with minimal spill, but you can "rake" across the surface of a subject, with a "kiss" of light. That makes them very valuable in fashion work, as they can be used to highlight details, especially in black or monochromatic garments. They can be used to highlight a face, with minimal spill elsewhere. They can be used to backlight hair from one or both sides, They can be used in conjunction with a snoot, to totally control hair light. They can be used to highlight an area of background to make it stand out. They are very useful tools in the arsenal of lighting.

Diffusers simply provide a softer spread of light, from basic reflectors. Used with barndoors, you can keep the light very controlled and soft, at the same time.

The main benefit, of course, is that these various tools can be used in conjunction with one another, and with other modifiers. It is the flexibility of how these tools are used, that offers the photographer the many different ways to light a subject/environment, and to take an individualized approach to each situation.

Since light is photography, the more tools you possess in lighting, the more creative you can become with lighting. While these things are not essential to make great pictures, I like to paraphrase a mentor of mine....."while equipment is not necessary to make great pictures, it can make the difference between getting the job done today...or getting it done next week!" Know what I mean?

One of my personal recommendations, in using light, is to always put everything away, from one shoot to another, and only get back out those things you truly need, for the next shoot. That will force you to think about the shoot at hand, and design the lighting to fit the need of the shoot, rather than just using the same approach on every shoot.

Hope that's a help. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]
 
 
They all can do pretty much the same thing ...
Old 11-26-2002, 06:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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They all can do pretty much the same thing, they just do it somewhat differently. I like the ananogy of eating with a fork or a spoon; they both get the food to your mouth, but they do it slightly differently and one might be better for a specific food than the other. Others have pretty much described the basic differences, but you really need to play with them to 'learn' the differences.

A couple of budget tips: You can fabricate temporary barn doors by taping heavy cardboard to the edges of the lights; A snoot can be made by forming cardboard into a cone and taping it into place; a large piece of poster board taped to or clamped to a light stand or most anything else, can make a good gobo, just make sure it's a dark color or is spray painted black. Small grids can be placed inside snoots to further restrict the cone of light, an so on. Experiment!

The attached was shot with barn doors on camera left and a 20 degree grid on the right.


Distinctive Images

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Re: Barndoors vs Grids vs. Snoots, Advice req.
Old 11-26-2002, 06:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I usually use grids to get a Playboy effect from light. If you like that look I would go with the grids. Especially learn to use the 10 and 20 degree grids. That being said I think you will need cutters and flags and learn to use them. Those prevent flare. The other thing I like is tough frost or frost gels to soften the light. They are taped over your lights. This shot was done with 20 degree and 40 degree grids. Also some frost over the lights used on the hair. I am sure others who like shooting playboy style also agree that the look is easiest to get with grids. Martin
 
 
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