The absolute most fundamental part of Photography is light. Put incredibly simple, Photography is just capturing light. However, sometimes (well, all the most of the time) it doesn't want to play ball. It can be too dark, going in the wrong direction, not the right colour temperature. So what if we were able to manipulate the light we use and take back control? Well the Rogue FlashBender 2 Portable lighting Kit allows us to do exactly that, take back control of the light and get our desired look and feel for our images.
Now obviously, flash photography has been around for decades and pretty much as soon as flash was invented, people started to manipulate the flash by 'modifying' the light source either by using methods of partially obstructing the light or systems to alter the colour and feel of it. Fast forward many, many years and this kind of manipulation of light is common place and done by many of those working with flash. The FlashBender 2 kit builds on the popularity of it's predecessor (Read my review of the FlashBender 2 XL HERE)and goes a long way to empower flash photographers with an arsenal of new modifiers and notably, coloured gels - but more about those later.
The kit is designed for those using Speedlites - portable flash guns that are far quicker and easier to set up and use than large studio lights. Just like Speedlites, the FlashBender 2 kit is very simple to use and portable enough that you can practically carry it with you all of the time, adding very little weight to your portable setup. The kit consists of:
- FlashBender Large Reflector
- FlashBender Small Reflector
- FlashBender 3-in-1 Grid
- Large Diffusion Panel
- Small Diffusion Panel
- Rogue Grid Gels Combo Filter Kit (20 Colours)
- Rogue Flash Gels Filter Kit (20 Colours)
- Travel Bag.
As mention, the travel bag takes up very little room and if you are selective over what parts of the kit you take with you, you will barely notice any additional weight. The reflectors and diffusion panels all fold down so are easily transportable and the gels will slide nicely into a supplied filter pouch, to keep them safe. Rogue have really thought of everything with this kit and have conveniently supplied a few rubber attachment rings to secure the gels to the Speedlite or modifier and even provide some pretty comprehensive literature for advice on how to use the kit - definetly a bonus for those new to modifiying light sources.
Using the modifiers couldn't be simpler. The modifiers attach by a belt that wraps around the light and secures via velcro. The high quality, yet ultra-lightweight materials mean you're never battling with additional weight and although the larger diffusion panel is a fair size, they are all easy to handle without feeling cumbersome. For those using off-camera flash, in windy conditions it is always advisable to weigh your light and stand down, but just be conscious that it may catch the wind slightly easier. The bendable inner poles allow you to manipulate the panel to direct the light as you desire. This is a particularly useful feature when attempting to isolate a subject from a background as the panel can effectively be used as a snoot to direct the light onto your subject. Before you know if, you'll be exploring the possibilities of directing light and adding a crucial new element to your photography.
Having a range of differing sized reflectors is also a bonus, as in certain situations, the smaller panels may be a better option. Bouncing the light also allows you to difuse the harshness of the light source and although many Speedlites allow you to alter the intensity of the light, being able to 'bounce' the light allows you to soften the effect of it, giving a much more pleasing look.
Using the Kit
I decided I wanted to put the kit through it's paces and decided to do a very quick, improvised product shoot at a friends house. We grabbed his wireless speaker and and through a sheet of white paper up as a backdrop. We set a couple of lights up and set about seeing how interesting we could make the shots. We got a base exposure just using the lights and then broke out the gels. I was immediately impressed by how simple they were to attach to the lights and even though it's advisable to be careful with them, they don't feel like they are going to rip or tear while you are using them, which is reassuring.
It was great having a range of colours to use and I can certainly see the benefit of using gels to balance colour tempratures in certain situations. However, we wanted to experiment a little and found that the teal and purple gels gave a really interesting look. There is no doubt that with more time and a little patience, you could get some really astounding results. However, what most impressed me was the portability and the speed to set up the kit. It really is designed to be portable and could really help bring your creative side out.
At around £165, the kit is an investment but one that should cover all of your flash modification needs for many years to come. The build quality is excellent and the thought and care taken by Rogue to supply everything you could need to get you going is fantastic. The kit is an excellent addition to any photographers gear bag and for those looking to unleash their creative side and take back control of their lighting conditions, well you need look no further.
For more details and how to purchase, please click HERE (not affiliated).