Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. This month we talk to Canadian photographer Jonathan Menga about a simple yet fun and creative tool: the Snoot.
The Snoot is such a simple design that it is easy to overlook the possibilities it brings. The Snoot is basically just a metallic cone that you attach in front of your Zoom Reflector with the help of the Grid & Filter Holder. Unlike most hard reflectors, the Snoot has a black, non-reflective inside and a bunch of angled corners designed to prevent the light from bouncing around inside it. This means that the Snoot prevents any reflected or diffused light from hitting the subject. The only light shining through its opening is the direct light coming straight from the flash tube. This results in a direct and hard light with a very limited light spread.
This can be used for a great number of things. Some photographers use it in a more subtle way. For instance, they might want a certain detail highlighted in their product shot or the darker parts of a portrait, let us say the hair, slightly brighter and more detailed. But there are also photographers like Jonathan Menga who use the Snoot in a way so that its effect becomes directly visible. Check the first image above. Notice something strange? Yeah, how come the stripes are fading away in the guys face? Right, that is the Snoot in action!
“A client that I had previously worked with asked me to prepare a number of images for an upcoming EP cover and additional web material for Andrew Cassara, who is a young pop artist here in Canada,” says Jonathan. “I was presented with a single reference image of a model posing on a wall with some colorful drawings on his shirt, and was told that I needed to create something different and creative.”
The solution that Jonathan and his team came up with was to blend two different light sources: a borrowed video projector and Jonathan’s Acute2 1200 flash pack with a single Acute/D4 Head. The video projector was used to project a variety of patterns over the young pop artist and the background, while the flash head was equipped with a Zoom Reflector and a Snoot and carefully directed towards the artist’s face.
“The projector would project onto the entire frame and the Snoot would precisely light the face on one side while overpowering the projector’s ambient light,” says Jonathan. “In combination with the inverse square law, shutter speed and a bit of feathering, it allowed me to retain the projection on the background and the darker parts of the subject.”
How would you describe the light that the Snoot creates?
“It’s a very punchy light that is, in my opinion, less harsh than a bare strobe. It’s very controlled and precise while giving a soft but rapid fall off on the edges. I’ve used this light several times now and certainly enjoy using it on specific applications. I find it to be more useful than putting a 5° or a 10° Grid on a strobe head. “
Why did you use the Snoot for this particular shoot?
“Because it’s perfect! I mean, for the type of shoot I was doing, I couldn’t think of a more controlled light shaper that would give me a precise circular glow on my subject without looking too harsh. Although the Snoot is not diffused, I still felt like the gradual flow of light within it allows for a less harsh output than a bare strobe.”
In this case you used it for a quite specific purpose. Can you think of any other clever ways to use it?
“Well, it can be combined with a grid to light product labels, backgrounds, or work along side with other lights to focus specifically on one subjects face.”
What is the greatest challenge when working with the Snoot?
“I find that getting the perfect circle size can be a bit challenging when you’re not attaching a grid to it. The circle is perfectly circular but tends to be too big in certain applications, but you can certainly go around that by moving your light.”
Finally, any recommendation to the photographers out there who are about to shoot with the Snoot for the very first time?
“Buy the Grid & Filter Holder! I decided to use it the hard way; I had a Zoom Reflector on my head and taped gaffer tape all around to hold the Snoot, which only resulted in more headaches…”
See more of Jonathan Menga’s work at his website.
Learn more about the Snoot here.