Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shaping light with a DIY snoot

I posted the photo below on a watch board and was asked how I created the light effect behind the PAM312. It is actually quite simple. All you have to do is turn the light of your flash into a small beam. Zooming in the head of e.g. a SB900 allows you to change the width of the light produced, but to an extent. Not nearly as small as what you can achieve with a snoot.

Panerai PAM312
Panerai PAM312 Luminor 1950 Marina 3 Days Automatic (click for larger version)

The above photo shows the Panerai PAM312 lit from above with a SB800 with DIY snoot attachment - and lit from the side (camera left) with a SB900 at low power. Scroll down for a lighting setup diagram.

There are quite a few companies that offer all sorts of flash attachments - like snoots, beauty dishes and so on - but I decided to give it a go myself. I bought a foam tube (the kind that is used to isolate tubes for e.g. heating systems) and a roll of construction tape from the DIY store.

DIY snoot
The ingredients for a DIY snoot with the end result on the left

Turning the tube into a snoot was simple. I just cut the tube half way so that I could make the end that has to slide over the head of my SB800 wider and I inserted another piece of foam into the opening. I taped the whole thing together and that was all there's to it... Admittedly, it doesn't look very sexy and after making this snoot I have found better examples on the net, but mine works just fine.

DIY snoot
DIY snoot mounted on my Nikon SB800

The snoot allows me to pin point the light exactly where I want it. Very simple, cheap and effective. I'm sure that a proper snoot will allow me to get better results so I'm thinking of buying one some time. But the ones you can buy are about 100 Euro and this self made snoot cost me less than 8 Euro and 15 minutes.

DIY snoot
Nikon SB800 with snoot over the Nikon diffuser dome

At first the snoot didn't fit to well. It was not tight enough. I could easily fix that by placing the dome that comes with the SB800 on it first as you can see in the above picture. I had to push it backwards as far as possible to prevent loosing too much light at the backside.

In the first photo (at the top) I aimed the snoot at the gold cardboard background from above. Have a look at the lighting setup diagram below to see how I used a SB800 (with snoot) and a SB900 to take the photo.

DIY snoot lighting setup diagram
Lighting setup diagram

Here's another example of how I used the snoot to create a bright spot on the black background. You can of course make the bright spot wider or narrower by moving the flash further backward or closer to the background.

Panerai PAM233
Panerai PAM233 8 Days (click for larger version)

One word of caution. Using a snoot attached to your flash can cause your flash to heat up quickly. You should be careful not to shoot too many photos quickly one after another. Just make sure to wait a bit after taking a few shots.

Feedback is appreciated.

All photos © M.Wilmsen 2009