I’m going to say something really scary….HARD LIGHT IS THE NEW COOL!
Although most photographers are fans of soft & buttery light, hard light is a really great tool to add diversity to your work. But not all hard light is created equal. There is one particular modifier that gives you ultimate control over your lighting. Let me introduce - snoot photography!
A fair warning; snoots are not for beginners. If you just started on your lighting journey, be aware that the snoot for photography is a difficult lighting modifier.
The snoot was invented a long time ago during early cinema days. It’s main function is simply to narrow a beam of light. In addition, snoots are sometimes called GOBO for either
GOes Between Optics or GOes Before Optics projectors.
In reality, they are 2 different items - we will discuss that later. In any case, the snoot plus the GOBO present the advantage of being able to shape your lighting into any desired pattern - creativity being the only limit on how it can be used.
Photo source: Wikipedia
For the modern photography artist, snooted lighting provides an opportunity to add variety to your portraits without breaking the bank. Let’s review how it works.
A snoot, starts with a basic circular pattern that you can focus or defocus - similar to a lens. Due to the optical and design elements, snoots are different from grids since the outlines are much cleaner. You can use the basic snoot to simulate a stage projector or create a nice ‘spotlight’ effect.
In addition, by adding a GOBO insert with a pre-cut design like for the Clar30 in between the light and the optical snoot, you create a shape that you can focus and defocus to your taste. This is where the creativity begins. The number of shapes you can build is truly unlimited.
Here is an example of a snoot with a GOBO insert.
Here are the most common snoots available. Some use flash, some do not.
I have used a snoot on a couple of shoots, and it’s been quite the modifier. For its low price, the snoot adds tons of diversity to your shoot but it requires the following to make it work.
Overall, having a snoot in the studio opens TONS of new doors in terms of lighting and dramatic lighting. Although challenging, if you ever felt stuck in your creativity, the snoot might beam a light (pun intended) and reinvigorate your idea machine. Grab one and do share the results with us!
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