Back Yard Studio In A Bag; A Kit Full Of Location Light Modifiers Page 2

Instead of complaining about it, like I tend to do, Geller decided to design his own line of location gear. What he came up with was the Sunbounce Pro, a large and sturdy reflector designed to be either handheld or clamped to a stand. This design was soon followed by another reflector that is totally unique, the Sun-Swatter Pro. What is unique about the Sun-Swatter is that it is made to be clamped to a telescoping pole, held by an assistant, and can be moved in and out, virtually anywhere required to block or reflect light, quickly and easily. This is an extraordinary time-saver for anyone on assignment, especially when a minimum number of images are required by the client. Instead of moving a light stand here and a light stand there every time the sun moves a degree--or moving a light stand here and a light stand there every time the model moves a foot--the assistant moves from place to place to assure complete coverage and light control.

Model Kira Distler with unmodified available
sunlight and shade.

Model Kira Distler with modified light using a Sunbounce Pro and Mini reflector. Note that in both images I have retouched the image exactly the same in Adobe's Photoshop.

But, you say, look, Anchell, if I could afford an assistant I'd have a studio and wouldn't be reading this. Not so fast. My solution to assistants is to always ask the model to bring her boyfriend. A model without a boyfriend? Unheard of. As soon as he shows up I put him to work. Won't work? That's okay. The old ways still work--the entire Sunbounce line attaches to light stands using clamps and accessories--you just won't be able to take full advantage of the Sun-Swatter's mobile capabilities.

Sunbounce light panels are well designed, lightweight, easy to assemble, easy to store and carry, and strong enough to stand up to professional abuse. I have yet to find a system as well made as Sunbounce, outside the motion picture industry (motion picture gear is the best made and the most reliable--it is also the heaviest and most expensive). And because Sunbounce is designed to be used on stands as well as handheld, the light panels work beautifully in the studio with strobe or incandescent lights.

Using a reflector only increases the amount of light falling on the subject's shadow side. But there is much, much more to modifying and controlling light than the amount. For this reason the Sunbounce line includes more than just reflectors. Sunbounce also makes flags, scrims, diffusors, and cucoloris, items not normally offered by other reflector companies. And just what are flags, scrims, diffusors, and cucoloris? These are basic light-modifying panels used by the motion picture industry--who invented both studio and location light control.

Sunbounce light modifiers on Avenger C-stands with attenuated arms. Note the use of sandbags to hold the stands in place. Always use sufficient sandbags when on location to avoid a catastrophe. The sandbags seen here are from Bogen Imaging Inc.

A flag is used to block unwanted light. Flags can be used to protect the camera lens from flare or to control spill light from other sources, or keep light from reaching certain areas on the set. As "light blockers" they were used extensively in the '50s for film noir lighting. Flags are usually black and opaque.

A scrim is also used to block light, but not in the same way. While scrims can be either semiopaque or translucent, black or white, their main purpose is to soften the light. Place a scrim in an overhead frame, such as those available from Sunbounce, and you have instant wraparound soft light in the brightest sunlight.

Diffusors and cucoloris are both types of scrims. The specific purpose of a diffuser is to soften the light falling on the subject, either from the sun (overhead/location) or studio lights (side/overhead/studio). A cucoloris is a specialized diffuser, usually made of two pieces of translucent diffusion material sewn together with an opening at one end. Any number of items can be stuffed inside a cucoloris--leaves, more diffusion material, an ex-spouse--in order to create a lighting pattern other than the flat, even lighting created by normal diffusion material. This is a technique often utilized in films to add drama or special effects to otherwise uninspired lighting. The cucoloris holder is also known as a Le Louche and it can be used as a stand-alone diffuser without the cucoloris material inserted. All of these light-modifying tools are made by Sunbounce in a variety of sizes, up to 20x20 ft, for their Sun-Scrim, with frames to match.

Which brings us back to where we began. Not everyone has a studio available to them. If you are lucky you have a back yard. If not, a park, beach, or riverfront location can all be good places to photograph. Be certain to have a permit if it's a paid assignment. However, if you are photographing for fun, or working on a model's portfolio, you usually don't need one--if you're not certain call the city and ask.

For more information, contact Sunbounce USA, 29488 North Sequoia Rd., Santa Clarita, CA 91387; (661) 252-9460;