Modifying the softness, direction, color, and amount of the light coming from your off-camera flash lets you create moods that can perfectly complement your subjects. While major flash makers (Canon, Nikon, Metz et al.) don’t generally offer the accessories that do this, an entire universe of independent companies exists to help you finesse your shoe-mount’s output.
Sized to fit accessory (and even pop-up) flashes, such products include modifiers to soften light; grids, snoots and flags to focus and direct it; and gels to adjust its color temperature. Using them can help you produce light that’s every bit as sophisticated as is possible with expensive studio strobes. Many of the best modifiers, such as the extensive line of shoe-mount flash accessories from Interfit (Strobies) and Adorama (FlashPoint), can only be used when you’ve taken your flash off the camera.
F.J. Westcott’s 28x28-inch Apollo softbox: It sets up like an umbrella, and its front panel is recessed to give you some control over where the light flies rather than throwing it in a wide arc. No speed ring needed. ($115, street; www.fjwestcott.com)