Capturing Passion and Magic

October 09, 2011

Light Modifier Review: Rusty Oil Drum

I figured I'd start my Light Modifier Review series off with a rarely utilized modifier: a rusty oil drum.

I was hunting outdoor locations at a photography meetup, when I found this rusting oil drum in a raised alcove under a bridge. Looking at it's lovely orange interior, I theorized that if put a speedlight with a full CTO gel down there, aimed, not up, but at the side of the drum, I would get a really soft, almost glowing, amazingly orange light coming out of the top of the drum.

Since it was near Halloween, and the meetup theme was costumes, I decided to put the oil drum to the test. I matched it with a couple of snooted speedlights to fill in the top of the face and to provide a hair/separation light. The hair/separation light got a deep blue gel, to emphasize the other-worldiness of the situation. The tight face fill started with a 1/4 CTO gel, but I quickly replaced that with a full CTO gel to better match the underlighting.

So, how'd it do? Pretty well, actually. It produced about f/4 @ ISO 400 with the speedlight on (if my recollection is correct) half power. The light did indeed pick up some lovely red and orange tones from the rusty. The drum produced a multiply bounced, soft, radiant light. I think the light was great, but you can make up your own mind based on the photos in this post, all taken using the rusty oil drum light.

Good Points:

  • Cheap - it was just sitting there, free for the using.
  • It produced great soft light with unique color.
Weak Points:
  • Not portable. I guess you could schlep one around if you had an SUV or pickup truck, but damn, it's heavy and unwieldy.
  • Not manueverable. It's a steel drum. A big steel drum. Your light stand or boom won't hold it, and neither will your assistant, so good luck changing the placement or even the orientation of the light.



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