Successfully controlling the harsh light from the sun requires two inexpensive tools: a diffusion panel to soften the light and one or more reflectors to bounce light, fill in unwanted shadows, and create accent light. Both of these tools are available in a wide variety of models, build qualities, features, sizes, and price points. The good news is you can pick up basic models of both tools that do the job well for around $100. Not too bad for professional location lighting! Ideally you’ll also want a light-duty stand to use with the reflector and a sandbag or two to keep things stable in the event of windy conditions.
Want to learn how to get creative no matter what time of day it is? Check out Sal’s latest video where he shows you how to create magic portraits right in your backyard.
Join Sal Cincotta, Canon Explorer of Light and Profoto Legend of Light, for 3 setups for soft light beauty portraits. Sal will take you behind the scenes and show you how to work with different light sources in your studio and show you the results.
All in all the shoot came together really well and my client couldn’t be happier. Bringing your client’s concepts to life doesn't have to be complicated or onerous. The key is good communication, a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish going in, and a simple, effective lighting plan. My advice is always to keep it uncomplicated and creative. Keep your eyes and ears open and always think about what you’re not seeing. The final you’re seeing here isn’t where I started out during this shoot. It’s easy to miss something potentially great when you’re in the shooting bubble. In my experience, the strongest image may not be the one you’re shooting but something still unseen and undiscovered. Stop, look around, reframe. You’ll be surprised at the hidden gems just waiting for you!
Readers of this column know that I’m a big booster for the use of handheld light meters. I use them daily in my own photography and recommend them to every photographer interested in better lighting. In fact, if you want to take your lighting to the next level in addition to taking your light off your camera, learning to use a handheld light meter is the next best step you can take in that direction. I know what you’re thinking! “My camera already has a built-in light meter. Why do I need another meter, another expense, and another tool to worry about?” Those are each great questions.
In today's age of high dynamic range cameras and increased knowledge of post-production software, photographers are beginning to rely less and less on the fundamentals of lighting. I can tell you firsthand that our studio built a foundation of its success on the ability to use creative light in any situation. Lighting, in my opinion, is the first thing that we should learn as professional photographers. Lighting will dictate the location that you shoot in as well as the overall style that you are trying to achieve.
Choosing the right strobe for your needs is not only a question of budget but how you intend to use the strobe. The criteria and features desirable for studio strobes differ from those designed for location use, and vice versa. That said, strobes designed for location use can be used in the studio, and studio strobes can in some cases be used on location. So, if you can only budget for one type of strobe, don’t worry. Keep in mind that every strobe involves a series of compromises, and there is no one strobe that does everything and does it well. That’s why there are portable strobes designed for location work and larger, more powerful strobes intended for studio work. Each has its pluses, minuses and place.
When it comes to crafting killer quality of light, it’s all about modifiers. These light-shaping tools come in a variety of shapes, sizes and interior finishes. When attached to the front of strobes, modifiers help control the quality, shape, direction, spread, and amount of contrast, as well as how quickly the light falls off. While some have more versatility than others, there is no one-size-fits-all modifier. Each has its own unique characteristics, and each produces a different set of results.
I love my strip boxes. My go-to's are the Profoto D2 line and the Profoto 1x6 RFI strip boxes with grids. I use these light modifiers for my maternity, fitness and boudoir clients, because of the control and impact they have when shaping light. You can use them to create gorgeous directional light that focuses on drama. And who doesn't enjoy an excellent dramatic photograph?
The main goal of my monthly lighting tutorials is to teach you how to think about light, show you how to effectively use lighting tools, arm you with knowledge you need to think on your feet, teach you how to solve the lighting problems you’re likely to encounter, and help you learn how to design lighting that can support a range of subject matter.