Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Snoots

In this post we will discuss snoots. How can I make one or where can I buy one? And what is their application in a real world situation?

Snoots can create very dramatic lighting effects and help isolate a subject when using a flash. They help by stopping "light spill. " Light spill is when light falls in a larger footprint than you intend it to be. (Keep reading, the illustrations will help this make sense!)

DIY (do it yourself) snoot:

First, I'm going to defer to my new blog friend, Rui Leal who has written wonderfully detailed instructions on building a snoot. Even a klutz can follow his steps and come away with a functional snoot...this guy is the Merlin of DIY projects! Not to mention his posts on technology buzz...I now know what I want for Christmas thanks to his blog. (Even though I would probably have to mortgage my house to get it...)

Buy a snoot:

If you aren't big on DIY and would rather buy a pre-made snoot, I've got you covered. David Honl has made some very nice neoprene snoots to fit most flashes due to their flexibility. There are other options, but his product seems to be focused on the market that is being discussed here. (Check out his site while your at it. He has some powerful photographs.)

Before I show you how a snoot works:

Let's go over the details of the examples so you really understand what's going on:

  1. On the following examples, you will see 5 black squares on a wall. These squares are distance markers. Each square is 2.5' away form the center square.

Light area diagram:

2. I am using 2 different lengths of snoots. One is 3" long and the other is 5" long. I will always refer the lengths of my snoot to be from the face of the flash to the end of the snoot. (To me, the portion of the snoot behind the flash is not really a snoot. It's more of a snoot holder.)

There's been some confusion on the web and snoots as to what the length is.

The argument asks how a snoot is measured. Is it the TOTAL length of the snoot? Or the length of the face of the flash to the end of the snoot?

How long is a snoot diagram:


Snoot examples:
The following images show you exactly what a snoot does and how different lengths affect the flash differently.

3" snoot fired 5' away from target:

6" snoot fired 5' away from target:
3" snoot fired 10' away from target:

6" snoot fired 10' away from target:

3" snoot fired 15' away from target:
6" snoot fired 15' away from target:
What have we learned?
  1. Distance of flash to subject directly controls how large the diameter your light will look when you take your shot.
  2. The closer the snooted flash is to the subject, the tighter the beam of light is (resulting in less light spill).
  3. Conversely, the further away your snooted flash is to the subject, the more light spill (and less control you will have over the light).
  4. The shape of the light(fall?) is determined by shape of the "mouth" of the snoot. So for a rounder light, I'd shape the end of the snoot to be round instead the same shape as the head of the flash.

Best practices:

Most flashes have the ability to zoom in and out. Make sure your flash is set to the highest telephoto setting. This way the least amount of light is being wasted by hitting the inside of the snoot.

Try to have 3 different lengths of snoots in your light bag. These snoots fold up and take up very little space in your gear bag.

Next Week:

I have a list of things to cover, but I want to hear your ideas! Use the comment feature to submit your topic requests, agree with someone else's request, or ask me to expound on a previous topic if desired.


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