Ask Quest

Quest Couch has been a writer, photographer and producer of award-winning multimedia for nearly 30 years. As a result of the demands of this type of photography, he developed the LumiQuest line of flash accessories, generally considered to be the most popular of its kind in the world. He is the author of two instructional books on flash photography.

Below are some answers for the most frequently asked questions:

Question:
Why is the quality of light from bare flash generally so unappealing and unnatural?

Answer:
Because rarely in nature is the source of light so small, intense and coming from the observer of the scene.

Question:
What’s the simple solution … or at least the first step?

Answer:
Make it larger and coming from a more natural direction.

Question:
Does spreading the light out over a wider area soften the shadows?

Answer:
No, not unless the light strikes a nearby surface and is “bounced” back toward the subject.  In that case, the nearby bounce surface becomes the new and larger light source.

Question:
Does diffusing the light source soften the shadows?

Answer:
No, not unless the process of diffusing the light creates a larger light source.  It is enlarging the light source that softens shadows, or “filling” the shadows with another light source.

Question:
Do “bare bulb” techniques actually “wrap” the light around the subject producing softer shadows and even illumination?

Answer:
No, not unless there are nearby walls/ceilings (bounce surfaces).  In the absence of these surfaces, the shadow softness (or lack of) is dictated by the size of the light source itself.

Question:
Can using light modifiers to enlarge the light and soften the shadows also even out exposure discrepancy between foreground and background objects?

Answer:
No, the law of inverse proportions is exactly the same with an unmodified light source as with a modified light source.

Question:
What is the “best” light modifier?

Answer:
Each of our accessories was designed for different situations.  Here are some guidelines to help you make a selection.

-All work equally well indoors and outdoors;
– The UltraBounce, the 80-20 and the Quik Bounce when  the doors are open, rely on nearby bounce surfaces (ceilings and walls  generally).  In the absence of those surfaces, they don’t work properly  and/or waste a lot of power/light;
– The larger the light source, the softer the light so  select the largest accessory you find convenient;
– Beyond about 10-12 feet our devices have little impact  on shadow softness . . . so you might as well shoot direct flash at these  distances.

The bottom line is this…
-Given the same light source SIZE, the greater the distance, the harsher the shadows.
-Given the same light source DISTANCE, the larger the light source, the softer the shadows.

Question:
Do I have to put self adhesive Velcro on my flash to use LumiQuest accessories?

Answer:
No, our new UltraStrap applies a constant 3 pounds of pressure to your flash.  It is the most secure non adhesive mounting strap available.

Question:
I’ve had a Big Bounce for 5-6 years and have a spot in the diffuser … can anything be done?

Answer:
Send it back and we’ll replace it!  If, for any reason, your LumiQuest did not live up to your expectations we’ll make it right.

Question:
The instructions are good but pretty basic, where do I go to learn more?

Answer:
We now have nearly 20 tutorial videos on this site.  They are also available on the LumiQuest channel on YouTube.

Question:
Could you please help to explain to me:

1. What is the difference between the Big Bounce and The SoftBox III?
3. I want to use it for outdoor portrait shooting and indoor home studio, which ones is better?
4. What scenario should I use Big Bounce and SoftBox III?

Answer:
The surface area of the Big Bounce and the Softbox lll are roughly the same, so their effect on shadow softness will be similar. There are a couple of differences. The Softbox lll blocks exposure and auto focus assist on the flash (not an issue for TTL or Manuel exposure), the Big Bounce does not interfere with those functions. The BB looses roughly 1 1/2 stops more light than the SB lll. The BB accepts Gold and Silver inserts, the SB lll does not.  It’s a matter of determining which of these features/characteristics is important to you.

Question:
What is the difference between the FX and the FXtra?

Answer:
The FX was introduced a number of years ago and is holder and a collection of theatrical gels. Actually many photographers use it with other gels or as a Mini Softbox.

The FXtra is a smaller holder sized to use Rosco, Lee and the Strobist collection of gels. It includes 5 color correction gels and 3 theatrical gels.

This page was updated on October 21, 2011 

Good shooting,
Quest C. Couch, III
Quest C. Couch, III