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What is a Snoot and How to Use in Photography?
Only at some times do you want to light up your entire scene. In some cases, you may target a specific area or part of the subject, and this can be made possible by directing where light from your flash goes. This is where a snoot comes in.
In this article, we will discuss in detail all about snoot photography, from what it is, when to use it in photography, to the various ways of effectively controlling a snoot photography.
What is a Snoot?
A snoot is a light modifier that limits the light spread from a flash. It is a cylindrical tube attached to a flash’s head and is meant to narrow the spread of light.
Instead of the beam of light spreading in all directions, it will be focused in a particular direction. This allows you to direct light onto specific areas or objects and prevent light from spilling onto unwanted areas.
Other than a snoot being solely used for directing light in your scene, you can also use it along with other lights to help balance the illumination of a scene from the leading light and add highlights in certain spots.
There are many types of snoots available in the market. However, not all of them are created equally, and it is essential to understand the best for your particular needs. Some of the main types of snoots include:
1. Homemade Cardboard Tube Snoot
Image Resource: youtube.com
This is the most basic type of snoot, and it is also the cheapest. Making one is very simple. All you need to do is fold a thick piece of cardboard into a tube shape and tape it to the flash head.
You can adjust the radius and length of the tube depending on your needs. If you want a more powerful snoot, you can use a thicker cardboard tube.
A useful technique of using this snoot to add cheap honeycomb grids is to pack half-size cut straws into the tube before fastening it to the flash head.
2. Metal Snoot
Image Resource: amazon.com
This type of snoot is more durable and allows for more precise control of the light. It is attached to any studio light source with a Bowens type of mount. You can also use an adapter clamp with other kinds of such flashes as speedlites.
The metal smooth is well known for its adjustable barn doors that allow you to shape the light in a specific direction.
3. Fabric Snoot
Image Resource: amazon.com
This type of snoot is made from black nylon fabric. It is usually attached to a flash head with a velcro strap.
A fabric snoot is a great option for photographers who need a lightweight, portable and inexpensive snoot, as it is easy to carry and set up.
When to Use a Snoot Light in Photography?
There are many situations where you can use a snoot light effectively. Some of them include:
1. To Create a Spotlight Effect on Your Subject
Photo by Holger Kleine on shutterstock
This is especially useful when shooting portraits or close-up shots.
It would be best if you have your subject in a dark background as this will make the spotlight effect more pronounced.
2. To Add Highlights to Specific Areas
When shooting landscapes or architecture, you may want to highlight specific areas such as windows or walls. You can achieve this by using a snoot to direct light onto these areas.
The narrow beam of light will create a more defined and focused highlight that will draw the viewer’s eye to the highlighted area.
3. To Light up a Background
Photo by Nik Panisov on shutterstock
By directing a narrow beam of light onto the background, you can create interesting lighting effects that help bring out the background’s texture and details. This is especially useful when shooting in dark environments.
4. To Create a Lens Flare Effect
All you have to do is adjust the angle of the snoot to control the shape, size, and intensity of the lens flare.
5. To Create Eye-Catching Rim Lights
By using a snoot to direct light onto your subject from the side, you can create a rim light that will create a more dynamic and eye-catching look.
A common form of ring lighting is the hair light, which is a great way to add a sense of depth and dimension to portraits.
Photo by Molly Blackbird on Unsplash
6. To Create a Low-Key Effect
All you have to do is to direct light onto your subject with the snoot while keeping the rest of the scene dark. This will help to create a moody and mysterious atmosphere that is perfect for portraiture.
How to Control a Snoot Effectively in Photography?
Controlling the snoot effectively while shooting is essential to achieve the desired results. You must ensure that the beam of light is directed accurately and at the correct intensity.
Here are some factors to consider when controlling a snoot effectively in photography:
Power of the Flash
The power of the flash will determine the intensity of the light that is being projected. If you want a more intense light, you will need to increase the power of the flash. However, it is essential to note that increasing the power of the flash will also increase the size of the beam of light.
Photo by Angyalosi Beata on shutterstock
How to Control the Power of the Flash
- Attach the snoot to your flash head.
- Set the power of your flash to the desired setting. The power of the flash is usually indicated by a number such as 1/16, 1/8, etc.
- Take a test shot and check the results. Adjust the power accordingly if the light is too bright or too dim.
Zoom of the Flash
The flash’s zoom will determine the size of the projected beam. A wider zoom will create a giant beam of light, while a narrower zoom will create a smaller beam of light.
How to Control the Zoom of the Flash
- Fix your snoot to the flash head.
- Set the zoom of your flash to the desired setting. The flash’s zoom is usually indicated by a number such as 24mm, 50mm, etc.
- Take a test shot and check the results.
- Check the beam to see whether it is the size you are looking for. If it is too wide or too narrow, adjust the zoom accordingly.
Distance of the Flash
The distance of the flash from the subject will also determine the size and concentration of the beam of light. A closer distance will result in a smaller, more focused beam of light, while a farther distance will result in a more giant, less concentrated beam of light.
Photo by VADL on shutterstock
How to Control the Distance of the Flash
- Attach the snoot to your flash head.
- Set your desired intensity and spread of the light
- Move the flash away from the subject until you get the desired size and spread of the light beam.
- Lock the flash into place.
The Direction of the Fash
You can also control the flash’s direction by adjusting the snoot’s angle. A higher angle will result in a more focused beam of light, while a lower angle will result in a wider, more spread-out beam.
How to Control the Direction of the Flash.
- Attach the snoot to the flash head.
- Move the snoot forward, backward, left, and right until you get the desired effect
- To create a more focused beam of light, rotate the snoot to point upwards. However, if you want to create a wider, more spread-out beam of light, rotate the snoot to point downwards.
Length of the Snoot
The length of the snoot also affects the spread of the light. A shorter snoot will result in a more focused beam of light, while a longer snoot will result in a wider, more spread out beam of light.
Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash
How to Control the Length of the Snoot
- Adjust the length of the snoot by extending or retracting it.
- To create a more focused beam of light, shorten the length of the snoot. However, to create a wider, more spread out beam of light, extend the length of the snoot.
If you are looking for a great idea of adding drama and interest to your photos, then a snoot is a great way to do just that.
Knowing what a snoot is and how to control it in photography effectively, you are now ready to create some fantastic photos with it. So, the next time you are out shooting, don’t forget to give snoots a try.