Digital SLR Photography

7 flash accessories you need to have

By Caroline Schmidt. Posted

1. MODIFIERS

There are many variations of modifier all designed to shape and improve the quality of the light from your flashgun. From ringlights and small diffusers that attach directly to the flash head (such as Gary Fong’s Universal Lightsphere and MagMod’s MagSphere) to speedgrids that focus the light coverage and reflectors that bounce it, such as the FlashBender by Rogue and MagMod’s MagBounce. Softboxes, in their many sizes and guises, are perhaps the most popular of all and with their collapsible design, are portable and far easier to set-up and dismantle than their studio relations. You can, however, buy mounts that enable you to attach a flashgun to your existing studio softbox. But, remember, the bigger the softbox is the more power you’ll need to create even coverage, so you may need to use multiple flashguns. Lastolite, LumiQuest, Neewer, Godox and Westcott are a few of the brands worth looking at.
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2. REFLECTORS

A collapsible reflector is essential for any portrait photographer and is just as useful if working with natural light or flash. Available in different shapes, sizes and colours, you can bounce flash off them and onto your subject.
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3. WIRELESS TRIGGERS

To fire your flash when it’s off-camera, most cameras require a trigger to be attached to the hotshoe and a receiver attached to the flash. Nikon’s Creative Lighting System doesn't, however, and can trigger off-camera flashguns using the pop-up flash, but most photographers still prefer to use them.

Most marquee brands do offer their own models, such as Nikon’s Wireless Speedlight Commander or Canon’s Speedlite Transmitter, but where third-party brands are concerned it used to be PocketWizards that ruled the roost. These days, however, there are so many budget-friendly options, with many retaining TTL and giving you the ability to control multiple flashguns or groups of flashguns. Yongnuo, Hahnel, Neewer and Godox, for instance, all offer TTL options but there are also many great low-cost triggers providing manual control.

An alternative to wireless triggers is a flash cord that connects the camera’s hotshoe to the flash, allowing you to retain automatic functions, however most are only 1m long. Wireless triggers, on the other hand, work by infrared or radio frequencies allowing the flashgun to be used at greater distances from the camera. Whatever you choose to buy, make sure the model is compatible with your camera as few are universal. 71fzjKybmfL. SL1500

5. FLASH GELS

Available in a range of colours, these sheets of coloured acetate can be used to match the colour of flash to daylight or to add a burst of creative colour to your flash shots. Most are held in place using a band or Velcro.

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6. FLASH BRACKETS

To attach your flashgun to a lighting stand you’ll need a flash bracket. The best ones allow you to tilt and turn the flash and feature a socket to support umbrella-fit modifiers. There are many unbranded flash brackets available but Lastolite Tilthead Shoe Lock is a worthy consideration. There are also brackets that let you mount multiple flash units to increase the output you get through a modifier like an octobox; check out Lastolite’s TriFlash or QuadFlash bracket.
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7. STANDS AND PLATFORMS

Most flashguns come with 'feet' that slot on to the connector to enable it to stand up, however these aren’t always practical if you don’t have a flat surface at the right height. Lightweight but sturdy lighting stands are a good alternative, combined with a flash bracket, and can cost as little as £10 for budget options, but the more you pay the better quality you'll get.

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