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.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Lens: EF17-35mm f/2.8L USM Post-processed: Alien Skin Exposure (Technicolor-Summer Blockbuster)
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Lens: EF85mm f/1.8 USM Post-processed: Alien Skin Exposure (Technicolor Vibrant)
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Lens: EF85mm f/1.8 USM Post-processed: Alien Skin Exposure (Technicolor Summer Blockbuster)
Paige~Darren Stone (2012)
Richard Avedon is widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers ever. In his early photographer/model studio work he used one strobe light. I never worked with Avedon or met the man, but I’ve studied his images and looked at his studio set ups. If one strobe worked for Avedon, is it good enough for us? I think so.
- Over-lighting looks cheesy. There are gazillions of examples out there.
- Less is more. Great design and style come from simplicity.
- One light is natural. How many suns are there? That’s the light we see every day.
- The Dutch Masters used one light source. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals …… they were pretty good.
- Quality not quantity. There is plenty of quantity in one high-powered flash unit. Quality comes from light modifiers.
- You can make hair highlights look exactly like you want in post-production. Easily. But not if you’ve over-lit the image.
- Use the money you saved on multiple strobes to buy light modifiers. Change the quality of light with beauty dishes, octaboxes, softboxes. etc.
- Reflectors do a masterful job of softening shadows if you get proper exposures.
- Pay attention to the direction of the light. Learn Butterfly or Rembrandt lighting.
- You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, don’t ya? Practice. Use one light for 10,000 hours. You’ll be a master.
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.
This is an image from the first shoot we have done with the White Lightning 1600X strobe outside. I can hardly wait to do more. I set up the strobe to the left of the frame with no diffusion and just balanced the flash with the ambient light. It’s so nice to have all of that studio flash power outside. The flash is powered by a Lightgear USA portable power pack.
- 8 On-Camera Flash Tips: How To Get Better Lighting From Your On-Camera Flash (digital-photography-school.com)