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.
Director Stanley Kubrick is considered one of the America’s greatest filmmakers. His films are some of my favourites. I like to watch his movies with a photographer’s eye for ideas and inspiration. Here are some of the things I have learned from Mr. Kubrick.
1- Reverse-tracking- When using a wide angle lens, learn to reverse-track or backpedal in front of your subject. It takes practice but gives you a variety of natural looking images. Make sure to give an occasional glance over your shoulder! It’s easy to trip or walk over someone.
2- Shallow depth of field with a wide angle lens– Just because you’re using a wide angle lens, doesn’t mean you need to have everything in focus. Keep your subject close and keep an open aperture to achieve this.
3- Light sources in compositions– Photographs are all about light, and adding highlights like these can make your compositions more interesting and natural-looking.
4- Available light– Kubrick used candles, street lights and whatever he needed to light his films. Invest in fast lenses to work in low light. Use high ISO settings. Your pictures will be more dramatic.
5- Telephoto lens to isolate subject– Use telephoto lenses with wide apertures to clean up backgrounds and isolate your subject. Telephotos are also flattering for portraits.
6- Attention to detail– Be meticulous with your compositions. Pay attention to what’s going on in the viewfinder. Make sure you have perfect exposures. In the camera, not later.
These images are from Kubrick’s film Paths of Glory. There are many more. Grab some popcorn and watch them with your photographer’s eye!