Skip to main content

Lighting Accessories (Part 2 of 2)

Here's the second half of our list of critical extras that should accompany you every time you're on location. How many of these Shoot-Savers are in your lighting kit?

  • • Dimmer: It's not practical to lug a commercial-grade dimmer on every shoot so the intensity of your big lights is best controlled by changing lamps or adding a layer or two of diffusion material. But controlling practicals—the table lamps that are part of your shot—and other low-wattage bulbs is a piece of cake if you've invested in a couple of inexpensive line-cord dimmers at your local big-box home supply store.
  • • Diffusion: It's tough to imagine fine-tuning a lighting setup without this simple means of softening a source and reducing intensity. This fabric-like white material's resistance to heat as well as tearing makes it possible to use tough spun near hot lamps and luminaires without burning holes or setting it aflame. Fasten it to barndoors with clips. This is one job where gaffer's tape becomes a problem instead of a solution.
  • • Black Foil (aka "blackwrap"): Nothing beats this non-reflective, matte finish aluminum foil for keeping light from falling where it doesn't belong. Snip a three-foot length from the roll and fold it to fit into the bottom of your case. Now you're ready to roll your own snoot for a recessed ceiling light, increase the size of a barn door, fabricate a flag, or fashion an odd-shaped extension for your lens shade with this flexible material. Think it's too expensive? Wait till you've solved a few problems with it and you'll understand why they say "That's a wrap!"
  • • 2-Pin Adapter: For those rare times that you are shooting in a building so old that the electrical outlets don't accept a 3-pin grounded plug. Always connect the green wire to the outlet box and use your circuit tester to confirm you are properly grounded.
  • • Light-Socket Adapter: When the only power within 150 feet runs to a ceiling light, removing the bulb and screwing in one of these little gems can save the day. Use in conjunction with a properly grounded 2-pin adapter to keep things safe.
  • • Foam Core: These lightweight boards, available at any office or art supply store, have a multitude of uses. They can be readily clipped to light stands or gobo arms for use as fill-light reflectors, are a perfect base or background for tabletop shots, and can even be used as flags to keep light from straying onto the background.
  • • Pocket Tool: The original Leatherman has spawned a multi-generational family of folding all-purpose toolkits. Make sure yours has blade locks on the screwdriver bits as well as the sharp blades to prevent them from folding under pressure. Forget about those little cuties that are designed for a key ring. A sturdy set of pliers with the ability to cut wire is essential as well.
  • • Black Magic: Oh, did I mention gaffers tape? It's indispensible. And it's even better in black.