Let me introduce you to my new friend, the Rogue FlashBender. I had this given to me for Christmas, and it really is a cracking little addition to the camera bag. I apologise right now for the image quality, this was a very ‘rough and ready’ test to make a comparative assessment of the FlashBender.
Mounting a portable flash gun onto the top of your camera is probably the worst possible position for it. The combination of a small rectangular light source mounted parallel to the lens will inevitably create flat lighting. When used for portraits the effect can be unflattering.
In this example the pop up flash makes the face appear flat and a harsh shadow has been formed under the chin. Although not that noticeable, the shadows on the wall behind the subject are also objectionable.
So now lets mount an external flash unit onto the hot-shoe. Again not the ideal location, but with most flash units allowing you to tilt and turn the direction that the flash is pointing we could bounce the light off the ceiling.
In some cases this will work and produce better results. We now have more of a feeling of depth to the subject but we do have quite heavy shadows under the eyes. If the ceiling is not white we will end up adding colour casts to our subject, also the light has to travel twice the distance, (up to the ceiling – and back down again) with a high ceiling we may not have enough power to illuminate the subject adequately.
So now lets take a look at the Rogue FlashBender distributed by Expo Imaging.
Available in two sizes – (buy the bigger one) it is in a nutshell a super little reflector which is held onto the flash head with a wrap round Velcro fastener. The reflective surface can be altered to a wide variety of shapes to allow it to ‘mould’ the light to your personal needs. It can also be used to block the path of light (flagging) or by wrapping it into a tube shape it will emulate a snoot which is used to produce a narrow beam of light. The shaping is accomplished by three flexible supports sewn into the material. It can be folded or rolled up and stuffed in a pocket easily. There are many reflectors and diffusers on the market, but this one seems to tick a lot of boxes for me. It will never replace my studio lights, but makes a great addition.
And finally here is the image taken with the FlashBender. The shadows under the eyes are now much reduced, the shadow under the chin is far softer, plus the shadows on the rear wall have been rendered insignificant.
The surface is washable and the overall build quality does give the impression that it should survive some rough treatment. My only concern would be the fixing to the flash unit. With only a fairly loose friction fit I can quite easily see it falling off when I was not looking. If I were to be using this within a busy social gathering I would consider using a bit of gaffer tape to affix it more permanently.
Amazon currently have the smaller version @ £22 and the larger one @ £30. Worth every penny!