The Rainbow Flash Wizard is an accessory for photography that allows you to change the color of the light that is produced by your flash. After all, why only use white light when colors are captured by your camera. Taking pictures with a regular flash can make for disappointing results, where colors get washed out and people look sick. With the Rainbow Flash Wizard, you chose exactly the color you want, in no time. You do that by sliding (to chose the Hue) or turning a button (to tune the saturation) as described below.
Because you probably also want to visualize the actual color of the light that will be produced beforehand, we've put some screens on the side that display 1) the actual color, 2) the hue (i.e. the color always fully-saturated) and 3) an indicator of the level of saturation.
And that's it ! You fit the head of your flash into the cavity of the Rainbow Flash Wizard, you turn it on, chose the color, and take pictures. Of course you may want to try different colors. It's so fast and easy, you will probably have done it before your flash is ready to take another picture.
We see two ways of using it. First option, you are reasonable and moderate, and put just a little bit of yellow or blue to make the light warmer or colder, or to change a little bit the aspect of your subject. You could for example simulate the light of a sunset. Second option, you go wild, push the saturation to the maximum, and throw some intense purple or red or cyan to the scene. To summarize, the Rainbow Flash Wizard will not only allow you to make better the pictures you take, but also open the door to a totally new kind of pictures and cool effects.
Below, we show and comment some examples that we did with the prototype. We also explain why you couldn't do that with computers. Those are just few ideas that we had. Once you got it in your hands, we bet you'll get creative and find amazing applications that nobody imagined before.
Dimensions : ~12x7x3cm (4.7x2.7x1.2 inches). The one you will get will be significantly more compact than the one we present in the video (about 1.5/2.5 cm in each dimension). Don't worry, the important elements will keep their size. It's just that we have put a lot of free space in the prototype so that we can work on it, modify it, etc.
The cavity in the middle can accept flashgun heads as big as ~6.5 x 9.5 cm, i.e. any generic flashgun. There's a big layer of rubber at the top, and a screw covered by rubber at the bottom. After you put the head inside the cavity, you'll just have to turn the screw until the flash is firmly attached.
It works with generic (probably AAA) batteries. On the right side, you have a switch to turn it on/off, and a push-button if you want to save your batteries and light it up only few seconds.
What if you don't have a big flashgun
We just couldn't accept that you'd have to buy a big flashgun to get creative with colored light. There are many reasons why you wouldn't have such a thing, even if you love photography.
To solve this problem, we created the Rainbow Light Block. It is a LED panel that fits perfectly into the cavity of the Rainbow Flash Wizard. The light is produced with Ultra-bright LEDs which provides the extra light you need to get the right exposure and put some colors where you want to. The prototype we tested didn't have the LEDs that will be on the final product, and we still managed to take most of the shots we wanted to take.
You fit it in the Rainbow Flash Wizard the same way as a flashgun. If you take pictures with a phone or shoot videos, then you'll have to hold it in your other hand. No big deal though, it is light and small enough to be handled easily. But if you have a DSLR or any camera with a Hot-Shoe, you will be able to mount the Rainbow Flash Wizard on it. Then, it will be just as if you have a regular flashgun. Well, you get the colors as a bonus.
How we got the idea
Last summer, I was on a trip across Sicily. One evening, I was shooting my wife on the beach at sunset. For some reasons, the sky around the sun was stunning, with a very bright orange-pink color and blue grey clouds. Of course I wanted to take some pictures in front of it, but I just couldn't manage to get the great shot I expected. My lens didn't have a great aperture so without flash I couldn't get enough light. With the flashgun the whole magic of the scene was lost. The stunning light was washed up by the white light of the flash and all the colors were gone. Of course, I could have turned around and put my model facing the sun, but then forget about the great sky. Long story short : great light, great conditions, poor shots.
Once back home, I tell this story to Raf who has been for a long time "the friend with who I talk about Photography", or to be more precise "the friend I call when I need to understand something in Photography". We both searched the web for some solutions and asked other photographer friends, but we couldn't find a satisfying solutions. I mean : something which would be handy, easy, reliable, and would give me the light I needed to take that shot. We also wanted to change the color in seconds, not minutes. And while we were taking pictures, not at home 4 hours later.
At the same time, We started thinking about what else we could do if we could change the color of our flashguns, and ideas just began to flow in. From this point it was clear for us that we had to try and make it. Quite ironically, because we thought it was so cool, we treated the project from the beginning really seriously, unlike some other DIY projects we did in the past. We wrote a document with the desired specs, the many ways we could achieve that, what would have to be tested in the end. One of us was a bit pushy on that point, the other one was a bit reluctant as he couldn't wait to actually try and make this thing work. Today, we are both quite happy that we took this path.
What you could do with it
Here are three commented examples. More can be found on our own website. All the pictures you see here were taken in jpeg format by ourselves in Oxford(UK), in one single day of April 2013. No "Photoshop-ing".
In this first example, there is a source of light (a lamppost), a subject (me) and a tree providing shadows from the lamp. If you don't use flash, the subject is underexposed. If you had a very good lens, or force the subject to be perfectly still for many seconds, then you'll probably manage to get a good exposure for the subject. But then the street would be overexposed. With flash, exposure is correct for both background and foreground, but does it look natural ? I'd say no. Using the Rainbow Flash Wizard, you can tune the color of the light to match perfectly the color of the one emitted by the lamppost. If you had not seen the picture on the left, you'd swear there was another lamppost, just on the other side. And because there is nothing that blends better with orange light than orange light itself, you can't even see a transition between the foreground and the background. Please notice the color of the lamppost and the street is exactly the same in all three pictures (which means no cheating).
The second set is a very good example that you can make pictures look more pretty using color light, even being subtle. The original flower is white, some would say a bit boring. Using the Rainbow Flash Wizard to add touches of purple or cyan, it looks just a bit more pretty. Looking closer, one can notice the color was applied on the darker areas at the bottom, when the upper part remains white. This particular example is the perfect illustration that you can't replace the Rainbow Flash Wizard by playing with Photoshop. Well, many photographers believe that you can do anything with Photoshop. Indeed, it's pretty amazing. But I sincerely don't see how you could reproduce all the blending of colors, of light and shadows, all the shades, etc. Even if you could, it would take you a lot of time.
We have also thought of other applications (cf. our website). You could put some orange or pink and then simulate the light that you would get during a sunset or sunrise. You could also use it to change the contrast of objects while doing Black&White photography. If you don't know which hue or level of saturation you want, you can take several consecutive pictures with slightly different settings of the Rainbow Flash Wizard. This is what we call Flash Color Bracketing.
The expected delivery date for the Rainbow Flash Wizard is next December. For those who just can’t wait or just want an alternative at a lower cost to try and see if they like Color Flash Photography, we propose the RF1.0, which is a reproduction of the very first prototype we made. Actually, it wasn't even a prototype, more a "proof of principle". Let's be clear: It is totally manual, it can only be used with small built-in flash units, no flashgun. You won't really be able to chose precisely the color you want, as there is no screen to check it. On the other hand, you will be able to produce many colors with your flash, and have plenty of fun.
An invitation to the first users meeting
Three months after we ship the last RFWiz, we will organize in London the first Rainbow Flash Wizard users meeting. This will last one entire day, we'll take care of the organization, the meals, etc., and will end up with a big party. It will also be a great occasion to meet people who share the same interest, exchange ideas.
Production and What we need the money for
The technology inside the Rainbow Flash Wizard is innovative but based on well-established and reliable components. The Rainbow Flash Wizard is an assembly of parts that have to be custom made, but with very generic processes. Some of them are in plastic, some in metal. It took us between 3 and 4 months to develop it, excluding the fabrication of the prototype. During the first 2 months we defined the parts we would need. During the 2 last ones, we worked on how to make them working together.
The exterior case will be produced by “injection moulding”, the most common method for producing plastic parts. This has the particularity to offer a low production cost, but after paying a lot for tooling, including the manufacturing of the moulds which is almost "hand made".
The part made of metal and some mechanical parts that require high-precision will be produced by laser-cutting. There is no big initial cost here, but a minimal order is required if we want the price to remain reasonably low.
We have contacted and selected some manufacturers who will be able to produce the different parts, and then assemble it. They also have experience of product-making and we will work with them to ensure that the final reliability and quality of the product is of the highest standard. The production will very very very probably be done in western Europe (UK, Germany or France), simply because apparently this would not be really cheaper to outsource in China.
Future of the Rainbow Flash Wizard
We are not aiming big and start a mass production. We just want to make the Rainbow Flash Wizard available to anyone who wants to try it and invent his own way of taking pictures. We want to stay connected with you, the user, get feedback, and eventually create a community of users sharing their ideas and their pictures, building collaborative projects and so on. By supporting us, you will be one of the first to have fun with this great device and you will help making it available for the photographers community .
We 'd be glad to hear from you and answer any questions you may have. Speak to us, we are on facebook and twitter (@RainbowFlashWiz), or we can even have a chat on Skype (add aymeric.rainbowflash to your contacts).
Risks and challenges
There is no extraordinary process involved in the production. The production of metallic and plastic parts can be achieved with very high precision if required. Therefore we consider the whole manufacturing part fairly risk-free.
Of course, there can always be delays, since the production will not rely entirely on us. In the worst case scenario, it shouldn't be more than 2 months.
Once you work with flashguns, you know you have to be careful with heat. Indeed, those devices are quite powerful and dissipate a large amount of energy in a very short time. During our tests, we didn't really observed any problem of this kind. But when testing the final product, we'll pay extra attention. If there is any issue, which is unlikely, we'll add a temperature probe with a signal telling you if your flash is about to burn.
You must be a real "Rainbow Flash Wizard" enthousiast ! Therefore we'll consider you as a particular contributor and we'll have monthly conversations with you (via phone or skype). You can keep those for yourself or share what's been said with the Rainbow Flash community. Of course you get all previous rewards
Our big dream is to attend Photokina 2014, one of the biggest photography tradeshows in the world. We'll invite you to come with us (4days) and we'll pay for everything (including hotel but excluding the flight to go there)