Definition: Light modifier; Modifier

Definition: Light modifier; Modifier; light modifiers;  | Glossary entry

Light modifiers; Light modifier; Modifiers

Photographers can do one of three things in any scene…

  1. Use the ambient light
  2. Introduce artificial light
  3. Modify the ambient light or artificial lights

Whatever the light source, light modifiers can be used to change the light. There are several general classes of light modifiers as follows…
Light manipulators/shapers like:

Light bouncers and reflectors:

  • White boards
  • Shaped boards and reflectors
  • Coloured boards (to reflect and create a colour cast)
  • Silver and Gold reflectors to colour and intensify the light
  • Walls and roof of rooms. [The photographer bounces their flash of the walls and ceiling to increase the general light around the room. Most flash is too harsh direction on the subject.]


  • Diffusion panels that modify large areas of light (especially out of doors)
  • Light panels – diffusion panels which are illuminated to spread the light and give a great spread of illumination
  • Small diffusers for smaller lights, hand held units and table top work
  • Light diffuser/modifiers – fitted to the front of lights like soft boxes etc to further diffuse and soften the light emitted.


  • Lens filters: Light modifiers that can be used in front of the lens to modify light entering the camera
  • Filters/gels for lights: Light modifiers that can be used in front of lights to modify/colour the light on the scene

A class of non-reflecting/bouncing materials or equipment to help modify light or shape light. Normally black.

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