I will start this series about flash modifiers with the cheapest modifier I can imagine. They do come simpler as we will see later, but at two for 0.99 US$ it's gonna be hard to find a less expensive store-bought modifier. At Saxon Computers you get two mini snoots for less than one buck. You will have to pay for postage of course, but even so... they're really inexpensive.
Apart from being cheap the mini-snoot also separates itself from many of the other modifiers I will discuss by fitting on a built-in pop-up flash. OK, fitting may be exaggerating a bit. Let's make that: meant to be used on. The fitting mainly consists of a bit of gaffer tape. But once you have mounted the snoot in front of your built in flash, you can take some really cool shots. The mini-snoot is kind of a one trick pony, because what it does, does well and does every time you use it, is to narrow the direct, built-in flash down to a small-diameter ray of light.
It's much like the light from a flashlight or a stage spotlight. The effect is surprising and actually quite useful. It completely isolates any subject in the middle of the image and can render most of the rest of the image dark depending on your exposure settings.
You have to be a little careful about the direction it's aiming. I went extravagant and used two pieces of gaffer - significantly increasing the price of the setup, I admit, but on the other hand that ensured me that the snoot didn't shift once I had it centered. The intro image to this series of the fish figure on the wall as well as the image below were both shot using this snoot, and the one below was shot using a 10mm wideangle. As you can see, my good friend Henning really is like a hare caught in the lights from a car. The image is uncropped and shows how much the light is concentrated.
The Saxon mini-snoots consist of foam and a small grid, and you could probably easily make them yourself from craft foam from Michael's and some black straws - but I challenge you to keep material expenses below a dollar before the first two are made.
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