What’s in YOUR bag?

My flash/lighting bag as it is today:

It contains, from top left:

  • Two rolls of Honl Photo gels
  • Flashzebra Cables to connect Pocketwizards to speedlights
  • Six pocketwizards
  • Light meter (and spare battery)
  • Three Honl Photo grids (2×1/4″ and 1×1/8″)
  • Cables and a Fong thing
  • Speedlite feet and a microfibre cloth
  • Trays for Pocketwizards, and a microfibre cloth
  • Four speedlights
  • Rain pouch
  • Knife, tape, tape measure
  • Three Ball heads
  • Flash/umbrella attachments for light stands
  • Grips, cables, “thingies”.

In addition to this I carry another speedlight, more Honl modifiers including the large and small Traveller softbox, a tripod, a bag of light stands and umbrellas, and up to four large lights (Bowens) with a softbox.

Pretty large kit but then, I need to light some pretty unexpected situations, and with this kit I know I can.


Last chance

There’s still some space left on the weekend workshop Joseph Marranca and I are arranging this weekend in beautiful Mono, Ontario, an hour north of Toronto: but you need to be quick.

Two days of intense learning about lighting: we will teach you studio lights as well as small flashes; one as well as many; traditional portrait lighting as well as edgy lighting like this:

If interested, go here right now and sign up online while you can. You’ll go home with some portfolio pictures.

And for the rest of you, I shall post some pictures after the weeknd.

A standard portrait setup

Back to the standard “small studio” setup I described earlier. This time I shall talk a bit not about how it works – I assume light sensitive slave cells and Pocketwizards and cables are all old hat to you now – but instead, I will talk about how to use it.

As a reminder, here is such a four-light setup, again:

Four lights; and after the click, more about how you use them.

Continue reading “A standard portrait setup”

Let there be light.

Please. Light. I dream that one day the newspaper will send me to shoot something where there is actual light.

Tonight, two shoots where no flash was allowed (or possible). I started with a recital. Church. Not possible to move РI had to stay where  I was and not in the best place. And no flash.

So that meant that to get acceptable shutter speeds (1/125th sec on a 200mm IS lens, which ias as low as you can go, really) I had to use 1600 ISO at f/2.8, which is just OK on the 1D MkIII:

Not too bad. Thank God for f/2.8 lenses. Why do I pay $2,000 for my lenses? This is why.

Then it got worse. Rush to get to the next appointment: Tennis. And indoors. And in very low light. To see the ball and to freeze action I needed 3200 ISO – and even then at f/2.8 I was only able to get to 1/320-1/400th second, never faster.

Big time noise. But…¬† I (and hence the newspaper) got what I went in for.

And tonight I will dream of venues with light.


Studio simple

A studio need not be expensive. Even a light or two – affordable strobes – and a few reflectors and a backdrop will do it.

This is a setup I often take on the road:

  • Two or three strobes with stands
  • A reflector with stand
  • One softbox and one umbrella
  • Two pocketwizards
  • A tripod
  • A backdrop with stands, and a roll of grey paper.


Easier than it seems and this results in good pictures. Even, sometimes, when you use just one light and a reflector.


And instead of the light meter, consider using the histogram.