A “Simple is Good” studio setup

I trained a local photographer in the subject of studio photography yesterday, and we kept it simple. Because simple is good!

First, let me show you a resulting picture of her friend, the model for the day:

Good studio photo, right? Yup.

So how did we get to this?

First, set the camera to standard studio settings. Like 1/125th to 1/200th second, f/8, 100 ISO.  This is designed to make ambient light go away. The studio was a bright room – big windows with only light sheer curtains. And yet with those settings, it looked like this in photos:

Second, now add lights where you want them:

  • A camera with a pocketwizard transmitter on it.
  • A main light – a speedlight (Canon 430EX) fitted with a Honl Photo Traveller 8 softbox.
  • A Pocketwizard to fire this flash.
  • A Flashzebra cable from Pocketwizard to flash hotshoe.
  • A light stand with ball head for it to sit on.
  • A reflector to act as fill light.
  • A  430EX flash to act as hair light (Shampooey Goodness™).
  • A light trigger from Flashzebra to set off that flash.
  • A similar ball head and stand.
  • A Honl Photo 1/8″ grid to restrict the light’s path.

All this looks like this (remember, take a “pullback shot”):

Third, now set the power levels. With the camera at 100 ISO. 1/200th, f/8, a power level of about 1/2 on the main flash and 1/4 for the hair light did the trick.

All this takes minutes to set up. A pro studio shot can often be done with simple equipment like this. And note the appropriate backdrop. The blond hair means we wanted a darker background. For dark hair I might have wanted a lighter backdrop: in that case I can add another light to light the backdrop I have.

This image is good and needs no pst work other than cropping to taste. Note the correct catch lights in the eyes: 45 degrees off centre and crear (and round, here).

Now, another shoot, the day before: friend and ex colleague (and client) Keith, showing true character:

This was done with three lights: One with softbox where I am., and two feathered flashes, unmodified, on each side, lighting both backdrop and side of his face. Again, a simple setup, although it took a few minutes work to set up. Slifght clariti enhacement to give it more pop, and slight desaturate to meet the web spects that this image was taken for.

By the way, fun expressions are good. Can you see how in that picture, Keith’s nice guy nature really shines through, even that was not te point of the picture? try to capture your subjects’ personality in the images you make.


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