For years I have been struggling with accessories that can be used with my hot shoe flash on- or off- camera. A good diffusion accessory was a plastic cap that fits over the flash head, then a cumbersome triangular unit with Velcro strips, adhesive and tape – reflectors and so many pieces that would drive anyone crazy. Not to mention the fact that this was dubbed “the fall apart”.
My challenge was to get a system that was light, easy to carry, easy to setup and most important, effective.
About a year ago I acquired a product from ExpoImaging called the Rogue FlashBender “large positionable reflector” – this accessory has not left my arsenal of gizmos and gadgets that I don’t leave home without. I use this to bend and shape the light, use it as a reflector, a snoot, and as a flag or gobo any time I have to eliminate flare.
Rogue FlashBenders are shapeable light modifiers for shoe mount flash heads. The design allows you bend the reflector into any position and you can be sure it will stay in that position until you decide to alter it .
After an introduction by Hunt’s Photo and Video a few weeks ago, ExpoImaging sent me a their product line to try out. Thank you Hunt’s and ExpoImaging. On opening the package, I immediately fell in love with the diffusion panel that works in conjunction with the large FlashBender. Now I have twice the effective use from the same product. This basically converts the FlashBender into a micro softbox.
A smaller version of the same system is equally versatile and I was able to complete a jewelry product shoot with just two off-camera hot shoe flash units mounted with FlashBenders and diffusion panels. It was great not to have to use my large strobes and soft-boxes and achieve awesome results with the Rogues.
In addition to the FlashBenders (large and small) they make a third product in this lineup called the bendable bounce card/flag. This is equally effective. If you are the type of photographer who uses elastic bands and white cards (business cards) you will love this. Each of these FlashBenders stay put. Installation is a breeze, collars and Velcro wrap around straps are superb. The system is designed to hold fast and stay that way no matter what size of a flash head you have. Event photographers you will feel you are in heaven. Moreover, attach the diffusion panel and you have beautiful soft light on the go.
For one of my product shots I needed an additional reflector so I used the bounce card without mounting it to my speedlight. Needing additional light, I folded some aluminum kitchen foil over it and now I had a high reflection surface bendable in any direction. I have also created a sleeve made with gold reflective material that fits over the large flash bender when I need warmer light.
If you have ever had the need to control your flash light output with a grid – look no further. The Rogue product line includes one of the mot ingenious honey-comb stacking system. A stacking system that includes a bezel, attachment straps, a 25 degree and a 45 degree honeycomb grid (combined they give you a 16 degree grid) all in a nylon carrying pouch. There is more, you can get a set of Rogue Gels that are specifically designed for the grid system. The set comprises 20 circular filters and a padded pouch. Each filter is identified by its color and f/stop loss (wow!!!!). There is no way you won’t fall in love with this system. That is if you want control and color.
There is no end to the number of options you have to gel your flash head. From pre-cut, to sample gels to cut it and fit it, Velcro, elastic bands, stick-on double sided tape and many other crazy options. I had actually given up looking for a good solution.
The Rogue system is so well designed; you get a large gel band (not a rubber band) that you put around your flash head (this stays put). Now you insert one end of your gel that is tabbed under the band on one side and then the other side. You are free to stack gels as you please. Each gel is printed with its color and f/stop loss. All so well organized in a padded pouch. The gels fit – they cover the flash head and provide even gelled light.
It is important to note that Rogue gels are manufactured by Lee Filters, renowned for their gels, glass and polycarbonate filters.
Conclusion: I have found the Rogue product line to be simple yet versatile, giving you total control for your lighting requirements when used with your portable flash heads. They are durable and light, easily packed into the smallest of camera bags and ready for use. Best of all they are self contained and do not require you to stick or glue things onto your flash heads. I highly recommend the system to all photographers who need to control or modify the light from their flash heads.
In addition to regular use of the FlashBender, I have now included the entire product line in my “Lighting Demystified” workshop.