Shooting with ExpoImaging – Review by John Clements
As a professional photographer, understanding lighting is fundamental. It’s a hard-earned skill and one that I am grateful to have mastered and can put to good use whether shooting in studios or on location. I frequently use studio lighting but have been an equally avid speedlight (Speedlite) user over the decades. Since Rogue products became available in the UK a decade ago, I have used them constantly in most of my shoots.
Whilst a fully kitted out studio with soft boxes, umbrellas, beauty dishes and the like looks impressive, there isn’t always the luxury of time and space. It’s not important how well dressed your studio is, but what does matter is the results of your time spent in there.
Female Outdoor Portrait. Working with some beautiful ambient light a Large FlashBender helped lift the otherwise shadowed face.
Rogue products give me a portable and flexible light-sculpting capability for my speedlights. I often apply the same techniques I would with studio lighting, but I think people are surprised at just how capable the products are in wide-ranging situations. Plus, they are compact and lightweight so you can take them with you as they take up so little room. When the speed of setting up and pack down is important, these are more than ideal, and they’ve proven to be quite indestructible over the years!
I would certainly suggest that anyone shooting portraits, close-ups, macro, product photography and more could benefit from introducing Rogue FlashBenders into their equipment. Not only could this make life easier, but I have also found that the shaping capability can provide less than conventionnel solutions when they are needed.
My favourite product from the range would be the XL FlashBender. This off-camera option is amazingly versatile, and good value in what it can be turned to. I shoot lots of portraits, largely headshots with it, to three quarter fashion photos and other images. I use it both as a reflector to bounce a speedlight’s illumination against a soft box, and also with the soft grid attached folded into a small ‘strip’ light soft box. It is so versatile.
One Large FlashBender off camera gave sculpting to place light just where needed, and hold back where it was not.
I have also found that it works well as a basic reflector both with flash and ambient light-only shooting, which I also found was the case with the large and small FlashBender products off camera. For example, during close-up photography and product shooting, they can subtract light by positioning them so that the black side is facing towards the light. This reduces fill effects; a subtlety that is sometimes useful. Likewise, when shooting outdoors I can simply use the FlashBenders to block strong sun from entering a lens and even use them to shade the subject.
The large reflector in the hot shoe works as a replacement surface to bounce light into, adjusting the angle that light moves towards the subject. This is especially useful when you’re working somewhere that doesn’t have a ceiling. It also comes into play for me as a snoot, either on or off camera and even as a hair light or background option.
The other products from the range I reach for a lot are the honeycomb grid sets, both the black and the rather unique white options. The former is my go-to option, but the subtlety of the latter is also welcome once you understand the potential it has.
Flashbenders in full or part of my lighting, are ’Swiss army’ knife solutions.
With numerous speedlights, I always have a portable mini studio capability on hand. They take up so little space and weight, meaning they’re great to have with me just in case. You would be surprised at some of the ways they have been utilised in my work!
When version 3 was launched earlier this year, I invested in the Large and XL FlashBenders. I have found that improvements have been made with each update and with v3 I think they have really nailed the FlashBenders. They are fast, easy to use and even more robust than ever before. They feel very well designed and durable, which gives me confidence that I will be able to use them long term and across a wider range of portable flash sized options.
Images & words © John Clements.
John Clements is an experienced professional photographer and well-known workshop leader. Pho-tographing largely people and products, his career has also seen him work with many camera and light-ing manufacturers using his technical and presentation skills to inspire photographers. John has also written widely in magazines and has been the author of numerous books during his career.