Do you see the instrument? Is it a Profoto? Is it Broncolor? Is it a fluorescent? How many watt seconds? What's the CRI? How about the color temperature? Do I have a beauty dish in the mix? Is it bare bulb? I can barely restrain myself. Is there a radio trigger? Is it a good one? Is it a Pocket Wizard? How high can it sync? Can I change the exposure from the camera position? Well, maybe.
But of course you know that I'm not talking about whatever metal and glass unit is hidden behind the 74 by 74 inch white diffusion screen, I am talking about the diffusion screen itself. It cost me about $100 ten or fifteen years ago. That included the soft, shimmery, nylon diffusion material as well as the frame. It's held in place by two ancient light stands.
And I have used this as a light modifier in hundreds and hundreds of shoots, including three or four of the shoots from which I've posted images here in the last week or so. I've used it to diffuse terrific Texas sun on outdoor shoots. I've used it as a big reflector. But mostly I've used it the way we would have used a big, wonderful soft box in years gone by. It's been an integral, defining part of many of my shoots.
It's been used along side of Kodak, Canon, Nikon, Leica, Hasselblad, Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung cameras. It's seen twenty or thirty or forty thousand dollars of cameras and lenses come and go. But it's still here. It's still the bedrock and aesthetic magician of many, many shoots and it still only cost me ..... $100.
In the example above I was shooting for Zach Theatre. The magic light unit of the moment? An old and crusty 1,000 watt, open faced tungsten light. As cheap and old tech as dirt. The final result?
A wonderful season brochure and accompanying ad campaign. The sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars of theater tickets. The paychecks of dozens of actors and staff. From a well used modifier and an old, non-automated light. And, an older, 12 megapixel camera.
The most powerful tool in the lighting inventory is little more than a bed sheet. Charge for what you know. Charge for how you see. Not for the dollar value and novelty of your tools.