Using The Calumet Speedlight Adapter For Portraitshttp://www.randelljohnphotography.com/using-the-calumet-speedlight-adapter-for-portraits/
Using The Calumet Speedlight Adapter For Portraits
One of the things I really love about using Speedlites is their portability, and Using The Calumet Speedlite Adapter For Portraits opens up a whole new world of opportunities for creating beautiful light on location with ease, and very little financial outlay.
The real advantage of Speedlites for location photography, is their low weight. Dragging a heavy lighting bag filled with studio heads, up and down flights of stairs can be a real pain, and take away from some of the enjoyment of a shoot. So why not lighten the load and save the physical strain. After all none of us are any younger. 🙂
Using the Calumet Speedlite Adapter is a pretty straight forward process, but I should point out a couple of things that I you may need to do if you’re using wireless flash TX/RX units such as the Yongnuo 622 units or Pocket Wizard Flex system.
The physical size of these units won’t allow you to fit your Speedlite into the adapter without turning both the flash and the wireless unit full backwards.
The bracket has two mushroom headed machine screws that attach the upper vertical arm of the bracket to the fitting that sits on the head of your light stand.
Although if you use Pocket Wizard from the ‘Plus’ series of models this shouldn’t be a problem, but you will be limited to manual control of your flash only.
Changing the mushroom headed bolts for countersunk screws wouldn’t really help here, and I had thought about doing this, but the knurled adjustment screw forward of the flash, would have to be modified aswell. This simple re-jigging of the flash works just fine and besides switching the Speedlite on and off in situ, doesn’t cause any real problems as all adjustments to the flash can be made from my camera either using my Yongnuo 622C TX unit or from the Speedlite controls within my camera’s menu.
The Speedlites head just about engages enough with the bracket to stop any rearwards spill from the Speedlite, and zooming the head of the flash tube to its widest setting, gives a really even and very usable spread of light inside the softbox.
For all the images in this post, I used an Elemental 120cm square softbox, which has a Bowens ‘S’ type mount. I really like this softbox, it’s large enough to produce a very soft light and is ideal if you’re shooting half-length portraits or headshots.
The softbox has an internal removable baffle, and although this reduces flash output by a stop or so, it really helps to disperse any specula highlights,which can be a problem when using Speedlites. I think its worth the penalty of reduced output, and the improved quality of the light. Although if you’re going to use less powerful Speedlites then you may have to make some compromises, but saying that, you’ll still be able to create a very flattering light without the internal baffle fitted to the softbox.
(I use Canon 580EXII which have a Guide Number (GN) of 58).
So what sort of light spread can you expect using a Speedlite in a softbox this size?
I’m always surprised by the quality of light that available using this method, and the photograph below really shows how even the front of the softbox is illuminated.
There really is no discernible light fall off from corner to corner or edge to edge. If there were I think you’d still get a very usable diffused light from the softbox and personally I wouldn’t be discouraged from using such a large modifier.
It would take a little experimentation I suppose, but I’m sure I’d prefer the results to using a shoot through umbrella.
I know the question some of you will be asking – ‘How much light is available to me’?
Well lets just say it’s not going to be anywhere near to a Broncolor 1000 Joule head, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I measured the output from the softbox at a distance of four feet. If you’re trying to maintain a lovely soft light on your subject, then this distance is ideal for a softbox of this size, any further away from your model, and all modifiers of the same dimension will start to become a harder light source. It’s also the distance I usually work at, and often my softbox is much closer and just outside of the frame of my composition.
So it’s a very usable light source.
The quality of the light is everything in photography and something I covered in-depth on a recent course I taught. Follow this link to read my post on ‘Photography Training In Porthcawl‘.
I love using my Canon 70 – 200mm f2.8L USMII lens for portraits and where I’ve got room, I’ll shoot at a focal length of 135mm or longer.
The sharpness of this lens is superb, but I love the way it looks at f5.6 to f8.0 for studio work, so I’ll more often than not use one of these apertures for my prefered depth of field.
As you can see using the Speedlite with a Calumet Softbox Adapter suits my needs exactly.
Adding a power pack to my Speedlight and reducing the flash output to 1/2 power also considerably speeds up the recycle times, but still gives me a very workable f5.6 or in this case f6.3 aperture.
With an external power pack plugged in and the Speedlite at half power, I get an average recycle time of around two seconds.
So what do you think? Would you consider using an adapter bracket to create beautiful soft lighting with your Speedlites, or do you think that they just don’t have the power to be of any real use?
Remember though, the above apertures were achieved at ISO 100.
Just taking your sensitivity up two stops opens up a whole new ball game, and although you may not be able to overpower strong ambient light at ISO 400, outdoor location portraits in open shade is totally possible, and a very editorial fashion lighting look would easily be achievable.
Have look at the images I took with my last outing with my Speedlites and my 120cm softbox.
I think the results are really pleasing. I even lit the white backdrop using a further two bare Speedlites
Trust me, this is a very cheap and easy way to light, give it go, I’m sure you’ll become a fan of Speedlites just as I have.
I’d love to know how you get along if you try Using The Calumet Speedlight Adapter For Portraits, let me know by posting a comment in the box below.
I’d especially be interested to hear from you if you’ve modified the Calumet Bracket and found a workaround for having to fit the Speedlite and radio triggers backwards.
If you’ve got any questions you’d like to ask me about lighting or photography in general, don’t be shy, I’ll try my best to help you if I can.
Cheers for now. 🙂