Sometimes I just do things impulsively. Last night, for reasons I won’t go into here, I was unable to go out and shoot some photos as I had planned. I had a choice of either doing some overtime for my real job or…not. I chose not, but then I was faced with a decision on what to do instead.
Impulsively, I decided to see if I could make a snoot. Now, given that a snoot is nothing more than a hollow tube that fits around the business end of your strobe. this would seem like not a terribly great challenge – but you would be seriously over-estimating my design and construction capabilities. Not to mention my propensity for hurting myself when I handle sharp objects.
Nevertheless, I got an old Amazon box, some duct tape, scissors and an Xacto, and away I went. I cut out a 10″ length and carefully fitted it around the end of my flash, taped it all together and then just taped the whole thing because, well, I had duct tape.
Being reasonably successful, I created two more snoots of 7″ and 5″ in a similar manner and promptly called it a night, popped an Ambien, and went to sleep.
Next afternoon I got around to seriously playing with my creations. I wanted to show myself what the difference between the different lengths would be. I set things up in my cramped office space – a room about 10’x12′ with a south-facing window. at 3:00 PM the room was pretty brightly lit. Stubbornly, I insisted to myself that I would use my 85mm lens, which meant my tripod was way out in the hallway – which I’m sure irritated my wife no end.
I put the 5″ snoot on my flash, which was positioned about 45° and 32 inches behind my right shoulder. I also had a warm gel on the flash (held in place by the snoot itself) because for me, using gels gives me more predictable results than fiddling with the white balance.
After some test shots to get the camera, flash, and myself positioned the way I wanted (yes, I did a selfie – again, I have constraints finding models). and then took three shots, one for each size snoot. Here’s the comparison (cropped but otherwise unretouched).
There’s a couple of things I found to be interesting about these results. The shortest and longest snoots both had hotter glare on my face. It’s a little hard to tell given that I wasn’t able to maintain a perfect position between shots (had to get up out of the chair to switch snoots), but it’s generally apparent that there is wider light on the shorter snoot than the longer one. For instance, there’s a smudge behind my head in the first photo the back of my chair) that isn’t apparent in the other two shots. You can see in the third shot that the light stops higher on my hand than in the other two.
But mostly I like the characteristics of the light and the dark background despite being in a well-lit room. Had I been shooting a model instead of myself, I would have taken more care to make some adjustments to the lighting and to the angle of the model to take out some of the more unattractive shadows. But in general I think this lighting technique works very well for virtually no cost. For coming straight of the camera, I’m very pleased.