Almost every week, some new lighting gizmo is announced to slake the thirst and open the wallets of Strobists everywhere, who are ever on the lookout for smaller gear to do bigger jobs. A lot of those gizmos are, quite frankly, only minor improvements over bare flash. Try as you may, you can’t overcome the laws of physics.
And physics tells us that the larger the light source is in relation to the size of the subject, the softer the light. So really, none of of those compact diffusing dome thingies you fit over your hotshoe-mounted speedlight are going to create really soft windowlight on a human portrait subject (well, maybe the “Tuba-Diffusa”–no, Mr. Fong, you can’t trademark that name, it’s mine!—seen in the above installment of the wonderful What the Duck strip, might do it).
But here’s an easier way. It’s a piece of cool gear I’ve played with lately that lives up to the twin-billing of creating “softlight” and being “compact.”
From Paul Peregrine, of Lightware fame, comes the Foursquare, an ingenious 30″ square softbox with a speed ring that facilitates the use of up to 4 speedlights (or two umbrellas in the double bounce clamshell configuration if you’d rather do that than use the softbox).
What makes this a great piece for travel photographers is the fact that the whole kit breaks down to an 18″package, which is camera bag size, and more accessories are on the way.
The most important accessory that a Nikon or Canon speedlight user will need is the swivel hot shoes that allow the flashes’ sensors to all be pointed back and out for wireless control (yes, that back panel comes off and there’s a translucent front panel too…it’s all modular).