One of the things I’ve often found cumbersome about traditional large reflectors is that you have to often use both your hands to handle and control the reflector, whether you’re using it to reflect light or as a scrim (for those reflectors with a diffusion screen). The days of two-handed reflector handling are numbered – courtesy of the Joe McNally TriGrip by Lastolite. Thanks to Team Digital, I had the opportunity to test-drive the TriGrip
WHAT’S IN IT?
The TriGrip comes packed with nifty bits and pieces:
- a two-stop diffuser panel, which can be used as a scrim
- a TriFlip reversible reflector sleeve
- a black window mask sleeve.
The reflector sleeve slides over the diffuser panel to create a bounce reflector and offers four reflective surfaces: silver, sunfire (alternating strips of gold and silver), soft silver (alternating strips of silver and white) and sunlite (alternating silver and gold strips, but more silver than gold) .
The black window mask sleeve has a 54cm x 38cm (21” x 15”) cut out window opening which reveals the diffuser panel underneath, creating a rectangular shoot through panel for speedlights. The sleeve comes with two black panels that can be used to change the dimensions of the diffuser panel – essentially controlling how much light falls on the subject. I tested the shoot through panel sized to the dimensions of a stripbox, my favourite lighting modifier when shooting in the studio.
Even at 90cm, the TriGrip handles like a charm. I used it in the LightPlay: Chiaroscuro workshop recently, to reflect window light, and my workshop assistant was able to control the TriGrip with one hand. The entire contraption folds back to a small circular packet that makes it eminently portable. In the image below, the TriGrip was used to fill the shadows (it was located camera right).
When using the diffusion panels with the black sleeve, you’ll need to set the Tri Grip up on a stand and bracket unless you have someone available to hold the TriGrip for you. I did a test shoot at a friend’s shed – in the absence of an attractive model, my mate stood in as the model, and we opted to go with more of a “working class bloke in a workshop” shoot (aka gritty portraiture). I placed the black panels to create a narrow strip light through which I fired my speedlight. A second speedlight was positioned behind to add a bit of light to the back wall (there was no natural lighting in my mate’s shed).
While using the TriGrip in lieu of an actual stripbox or other lighting modifier can be a bit fiddly (you have to set up the TriGrip, work out the desired orientation of the diffusion panel and position the speedlight appropriately), it’s certainly a useful surrogate for photographers who don’t want to invest in a separate softbox or stripbox for their speedlights. Here’s the portrait taken in the shed – with a speedlight shooting through narrow diffusion panels to control the light fall off.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Two words: Love It! The Joe McNally TriGrip is very user friendly as a reflector – easy to handle, easy to control and very portable. The fact that the removable black panels can also be used to turn the diffuser panels into a makeshift soft box of various dimensions is a great value-add (though you do need to invest in a bracket and stand unless you can find someone to hold the TriGrip for you).
The TriGrip comes in varying sizes — I’d recommend going with the 90cm (36″) version if you are able to as it simply provides better reflection coverage and the diffuser panel can be set to a range of sizes.
If you’re in the market for a great reflector that’s easy to use and which has the added bonus of the removable panels, then give this one a look.