There is mucho lighting gear out there. And it’s expensive. It can be overwhelming when you’re starting out. You don’t want to waste money on stuff you don’t really need.
All of my gear is from Paul C Buff out of Nashville. I can’t say enough about this company and their products. You can also buy directly from them out of Australia and Europe.
There is no “right” answer for what you need in the studio. But here’s what I use.
I own two White Lightning X1600 flash units. I only use one at a time. One is for backup.
They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and bullet-proof. I’ve had one drop with a light stand into concrete from 10 feet high. Didn’t even faze it. The color balance is great and they recycle fast.
Ringflash is a specialty lighting effect. However this Ringflash doubles as a lightweight remote flash unit for location shoots. And for around 500 bucks, it’s not going to break the bank to get a ringflash. You can get cheaper one’s that attach to a speedlight. But they don’t have the same power. This one is plenty powerful. I’m going to do a shoot with it soon. So I might go into how it works on a future post. It can be tricky to use.
White High Output Beauty Dish
This has become my favorite light modifier. The light IS beautiful! You can’t beat it for crispness in the shadows and nice round catch lights in the eyes. If I had to pick one modifier, this would be it.
Large (32″ x 40″) Softbox
You really have to have one of these. It’s just indispensable for full-length fashion shots. A large Octabox is another good choice. I think I might get one of those soon.
This is what I use and it works for me. It’s fun to experiment, research and find out what lighting gear you want to get. I’m always looking to more lighting toys to the arsenal.
Depending on what you shoot, and what your lighting aesthetics are, you’ll end up with a completely different kit than mine. But I hope this helps.
I decided to branch out a bit from straight fashion and use what I have learned in the studio with portraiture. I take hundreds of portraits for the newspaper every year, but mostly environmental portraits without the studio setup. I made a lighting set up when I had a few people over the other night for a party. I instructed the subjects to give me a “badass or crazy” look. My friend David Lennam, a Canadian writer, was one of the guests who posed. This is Dave’s “badass” look. It was great and weird that Dave showed up to the party in his blue bathrobe for the “Blue Theme” party. So I guess Dave kind of covered “badass and crazy” all in one look. I set up a quick backdrop with paper and used a White Lighting X1600 shot through a beauty dish directly in front and above the sunbject. You can see the lighting diagram below. I used the Alien Skin Exposure CS5 plug-in Polapan film emulation to add some grain and the blue/pink tones. Camera was the Canon 5D Mark 2 with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens.
Did a test shoot of Coultish Management model Sophia with AlienBees ABR800 ringflash unit. I used the flash alone for the image on the left. The flat lighting with no shadows has a nice, if somewhat trendy fashion look to it.
For this second image I used the flash as a fill with a 22″ beauty dish off to the right. The ring flash was set two stops under the beauty dish flash.