Creating a Snoot with Rosco Photofoil

There are many ways to control the light emitted from your off-camera hot shoe flash. One of my favourites is to make a snoot from Rosco Photofoil. Photofoil is non-reflective heavy gauge flat matte black aluminium foil supplied on a roll and available in 12" x 10' or 24" x 10' rolls.

Making a snoot is a straight forward process; cut about 12 inches (30 cm) from the 12" roll and then fold in half. You then wrap the Photofoil around the head of your flash leaving a gap at the front.

I have a feeling that this is going to take longer than expected as I have one of our Siamese kittens, Kato, trying to "help" me!

Canon 580 EX II Speedlite with Go Pro Photo Gel Clip and Rosco Strobist Collection Cinegel #3401 Sun 85 CTO. Notice the spread of the light on the white background paper. The flash is positioned approximately 2 metres (6 feet) from the background and remained constant for this demonstration.

The flash was set to Manual, 1/16th power and triggered as the Slave unit via a long eTTL lead connected to a second Speedlite which illuminated the snooted flash.

This shot shows the effect of the snoot reducing the light (in this shot) to the left of the frame. Here the Photofoil is moulded to form a cone giving a broad spread of light.

Without removing the Photofoil from the flash I've now shaped it to reduce the light at the top and bottom of the frame. One of the key advantages of Photofoil is the ability to shape the snoot at will and 
not have uniform edges.

Here I've pushed in the left side of the Photofoil to give a defined edge and higher spread.

Notice how as you narrow the opening the area of light darkens. You'll need to increase the flash output to compensate for this if working in Manual mode to maintain the desired level of illumination.

You can also add patterns to your background very simply by prodding some random holes into a piece of Photofoil and holding it in front of your already snooted flash.

This is called a cookie or cookaloris. Here you can see the perforated Photofoil and the pattern on the background, top right. 

You can also use a piece of Photofoil as a flag to block light from falling onto the background. Photofoil may be used as an effective lens shade in bright sunny conditions to reduce flare and increase image saturation.

If you're serious about lighting then I'd recommend a roll or two of Photofoil in your lighting kit. It's durable and reusable. I've a piece in my OCF box that must be at least 5 years old and still going!

Watch this space - soon I'll show how you can vary the colour of your background using Rosco Strobist Collection coloured gels and varying the flash output. Simple. Really.




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