The Lightsphere is a translucent unit with a detachable dome that fits onto the front of the Speedlite. It comes in several versions and sizes for various cameras (www.gary fong.com). I currently use the Lightsphere II. Normally you point the Speedlite straight up with the Lightsphere attached. The concave dome can be attached to the Lightsphere and is most often used in rooms with low ceilings, as it spreads the beam.
The Lightsphere works by spreading light. There are vertical ridges along the side of the Lightsphere that resemble antique halo-phane lamps and work the same way in terms of spreading light. As the flash is fired, these ridges capture the light and radiate it 360 degrees. Meanwhile, the light also continues upwards, either directly to the ceiling (without the dome) or through the dome to the ceiling. The dome also bounces light back down and out through the sides.
In the right situations, this unit works wonderfully, providing soft illumination both outwards and upwards, giving the look of several lights. However, keep in mind ceiling and wall colors; the unit works best in rooms with light, neutral-colored walls and ceilings. Obviously in a room with green walls and maroon ceilings, you'll find a different effect, and not necessarily a pleasing one.
The Lightsphere is less efficient outdoors as there are fewer surfaces to bounce off of. You can always point it forward so that it acts more like direct flash with diffusion in front.
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