Hey Everyone! I hope today finds you safe and healthy! Today I want to talk about my studio lighting set up and the strobes, flashes, and light modifiers I use. Now if you follow me I am primarily an outdoor photographer, and usually the only light I use besides sunlight would be some kind of LED portable light, like a Lume Cube. But did you know that I used to do a lot of tabletop photography and used strobes quite a bit? I have done portraits, mainly head shots, but I have shot weddings and even a bridal shoot. Now, I hardly do any of that type of photography and have scaled down my strobes that I used to use. Usually, I just shoot portraits for family and friends.
Metering- When using external flashes, I find that an external flash meter is a must to get perfectly exposed shots. The meter that I use is an old one that you can't even buy anymore. It's a Sekonic L-358 and I just love it. Sekonic is the brand that I would always go to. These meters help you get the perfect exposure using incident meter reading instead of TTL or reflective meter reading that your camera gives you. Using this meter is easy. You just dial in the settings that you want to use and adjust your lights to it. I love this type of metering using flashes or strobes.
Flashes/Strobes- Now I have to say I have a lot of flashes. When I first started with flash photography, I started with inexpensive flashes that only shot in manual mode, no automatic modes and no TTL(through the lens) capabilities. You can get these flashes for about $50 each. The ones I got were from Yongnuo, a third-party company that makes inexpensive flashes. I have made lots of amazing photos on my tabletop studio with these flashes, and they still work great. And if they break there is no big deal because they are so inexpensive compared to a brand name flash that comes in at over $300. I probably have four or five of these and don't use them too much anymore except for fill flash on special occasions. I have other flashes also that I use that are more high-tech and use TTL. I can use these on the camera for fill flash, like if I was shooting an event. I have a Flashpoint and a Yongnuo one, and they both work great. I also have a small flash that is the Neewer brand that is small and kind of matches my small mirrorless camera that is handy to carry around. My main strobe light is a Flashpoint Evolve 200. This small flash-like strobe is about 2 1/2 times the strength of my other flashes and is what I use for my main light when doing portraits. I only have one but would love to have another. These are fantastic strobes that have many heads that can attach to them. They are battery powered and strong enough to use outside if you wanted to overpower the sun for a special shot. They are radio-controlled, which means I can change the settings on the fly, and they also do TTL and high-speed sync. I used to have very large strobes, but these are just a little larger than a traditional flash.
Triggers- You can set off your flashes or strobes in a number of ways. They can be wired to one another and then to your camera so that when you push the shutter you get a flash. You can trigger them optically when you make one flash, like on your camera, then the rest of them flash. You can trigger with IR (infrared) like the remote control of your TV, or you can use radio signals to trigger the flash or strobe. Radio triggers are the most dependable because they do not depend on the line of site like optical and IR do, and they are not physically connected to your camera so you have freedom of movement. I have two different sets of triggers. The first one is Radio Poppers, similar to Pocket Wizards that used to be the industry standard but much cheaper. They are a simple trigger that just makes the flash pop. My other trigger is an Godox X Pro trigger, and it talks to my Flashpoint Evolve and Flashpoint Flash and to an Godox Receiver that I can hook to different flashes. I can control each of the flashes separately with this trigger. It's very high-tech and awesome and may become the new standard, but as I'm not into flashes and strobes like I used to be, I'm not up on the latest and greatest.
Stands/Modifiers- This is where you can really go crazy because these things do not cost that much for a home studio. You can get stands, booms, and any hardware relatively cheap, especially getting them a little here and there. Before long you have quite the setup. For light stands, I use fairly inexpensive ones. I think they were $25 each, and I have accumulated more than I need over time. Modifiers can come in many shapes and sizes. From the basic shoot through umbrella (my go-to) or the more elaborate soft boxes and beauty dishes, these are all fairly inexpensive if you're getting them one at a time. My soft boxes are made by Wescott, and they fold up like an umbrella for easy storage as do a couple of different sized beauty dish soft boxes that are hexagon in shape. You can get lots of shapes and sizes on Amazon very inexpensively. Let me squeeze in backdrops in this category. I used to have some very large backdrops and stands that I would use when doing portraits, but I sold those and have many cloth remnants that I can put behind someone's head to make a simple back drop. These are very inexpensive, and you may already have these at your house. Also, for tabletop photography, a simple black foam core board on one side and white on the other is great for backdrops for product photography. They are less than $5 at your local craft shop.
As you can see, I have accumulated quite an array of items for my home studio. One thing I didn't mention is an old table that I use for the tabletop stuff. I actually found this in a dumpster, but its like a 4x3 foot table that sits in the corner waiting to be used. Like every other table, it catches anything when I walk in the room, so when I use it I have to clean all the stuff off of it.
Well, I have rambled quite a bit this week. So until next week, get out and shoot!