What is a lighting modifier? from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli

Course transcript

A modifier makes partial or minor changes to something. As photographers, we want to add modifiers to our light source to alter and shape the output of light. Light modifiers don’t have to be store-bought. Remember, a modifier is anything that alters light. There are many do-it-yourself alternatives. It could be a piece of tin foil from your kitchen. It can even be a bed sheet thrown over a flash to diffuse the light. My advice? If you’re using a piece of gear on a regular basis, and you can afford it, buy professional light modifiers. If it’s not in your budget, or you only plan on using it once or twice, DIY, or do-it-yourself, is a good alternative.

There are three ways to modify light:

  1. Diffuse
  2. Block
  3. Bounce the light.

Diffusing light

Diffusing light is going to help us soften the light to where it’s an even light that’s spread onto our subject.

Blocking light

Sometimes we want to block light. So we don’t want the light to cover the entire scene.

Bouncing the light

Bouncing the light is great when we want to photograph a large group of people or when photographing a subject against a background, and we need as much light as possible.