"There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to bare bulb your strobe". (Udi Tirosh, 2013).
Most hot shoe strobes have a fundamental difference from monoblocks or other "studio strobes".
Studio strobes are "bare bulb" which means that the light they emit goes everywhere. Most (if not all) hot shoe strobes are directional, meaning that most of the light they emit goes forward.
Where you think about it, it makes sense. Hot shoe strobes are primarily used on camera (well, at least originally) and the main point of putting them on camera is to light distant subjects. This is why they are built to throw as much light forward. Even if today many photographers use them off camera, they are still designed and built mainly for throwing light forward.
The front of a hot shoe strobe has to be "bullet proof" as they are usually tossed in the bag, hence a plastic enclosure. Try throwing a studio flash in your bag, the unprotected xenon tube would break in a heart beat.
Studio strobes on the other hand, are almost never used without a modifier. To throw the light forward, you place a reflector on the head. But having the light go all ways makes them far more versatile when it comes to other light shaping tools like softboxes, beauty dishes, and actually anything that needs a wider dispersion of light.
This difference between hot shoe strobes and studio strobes can be a bummer for off camera flashers. Almost every modifier (maybe snoot and grid excluded) benefit from having a bare bulb flash.
Here are 3 different approaches for barebulbing a hot shoe strobe. Going from least efficient to most efficient, and from dumb-proof to please don't do this unless you are a certified electrician. Click to continue ›