To say I’ve collaborated with Lastolite on creating new light shapers is to give me too much credit. I have babbled and sketched a few things their way, but it is really Gary Astill, their chief designer, who has morphed muddled thoughts and a few notions about controlling light in fairly simple ways into real form and design.
The above was shot with a new version of the Lastolite Skylite Rapid. What’s new about it is that it has a set of velcro masks that can be arranged over the diffuser surface to give you an wide array of different size light sources.
What I did on this brief video shoot, was put three Nikon SB 910 speed lights into the Skylite Rapid (I tend just to call it a 3×3) and then sort of work my way backwards, masking off different areas of the light surface, making it skinny and long, filling it occasionally with a Tri-grip reflector, working TTL, and simply altering the path of the light, and its dispersion, to in turn alter the feel and mood of the photo.
If you remove the bounce fill from below, and really skinny out the light pattern, you get something a touch more dramatic, with a bit more cheekbone edge. Which suits my subject, who is a semi-pro footballer over in the UK, and an excellent athlete. In a number of these portraits, I’ve edged my camera (all pix shot with a D800E) into high speed sync mode, hovering here and there at about 1/500, maybe 1/800 of a second, with my longer lens, the Nikkor 70-200 zoom, wide open at f2.8.
You open up that edge, and the shadows, when you strip off the masks, and cover your subject with the full wash of a big diffuser surface.
Be careful of sun dapple! I mention this in the video below, as it can drive you mad, working on a day where the sun is playing dodge ‘em with the clouds and the wind is moving the trees and leaves about. There’s a bit in the pic above, which I view now as a something of a happy accident, but it’s definitely something to watch for and control to your taste. The really nice, incremental control lighting like this gives you, when you combine a nice sized surface with the ratcheting Tri-flash, is that you can click the three flash heads into different vectors of the light shaper. This will, to a small degree, weight one area of the lighting surface with either more or less light, and enable you, for instance, to open up a shadow, or feather down a highlight as you see fit.
All in all, a very handy, portable light shaper that can adapt its size quite readily to the task at hand, and drop, collapsed, into a small duffel. You can email Jeff Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org, as he is responsible for quickly getting these new products up on the Adorama website in short order.