When I was new to photography, I was doing all I could to soak up all the information that I could find. I would read books, watch YouTube videos and I even took a photography class at a local community college.
It was this class, without a doubt, that taught me the most. However, I’m seeing a disturbing trend; it seems that everyone is an expert and willing to teach you about photography – for a price of course. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some of these courses are fine and well worth the investment. I just feel that many of them exist to prey on new photographers who just want to learn all they can and improve in their craft quickly.
This is why I say; Don’t fall for it.
With all the information on the internet these days, you can certainly learn all you need to know for no cost.
Much of the work of being a photographer occurs durning ‘natural’ light in the outdoors. While you can modify this light to some degree, when you get into a studio with nothing but strobes to light your subject, it’s a whole different world!
In the photo above you can see me taking a business head shot with a three-light set up. One light is a main light, one a fill and the third an accent or ‘hair light’.
This is considered one of the most complicated set ups and most people will recommend that you start with a single light and get comfortable with that first. I agree with that method. Then, as you learn, add another and finally a third (or more if needed).
The results you can get in a studio, when you have complete control of the lights, are really endless. You can pretty much create any look that you can imagine.
One tool that will be needed is a good quality light-meter.
Once you’ve got the lights set up in their basic position, turn off any overhead lights and start to tune the lighting. Set the ISO of your lightmeter to 100. Then set your shutter speed to 1/125 (as a starting point). Stand where your subject will stand. Point the white ‘dome’ of the light meter towards the camera position and hit the test button on the light meter. At this point, you’ll need to also hit the test button on strobe controller as well. It deserves to be mentioned that every brand of strobes is different. The differences don’t really matter as long as you’re able to set off the strobes while the meter is ‘looking’ for them. Once the meter records the amount of light, it will display an aperture setting. Set your camera with these settings and you’ll have a proper exposure.
Once you have the basics of how all this works, you can start to move the lights around. Play with more – or less lights to test what you can create. The possibilities are really endless.
The strength and position of the light is just part of the challenge. You’ll also need to pose your subject in such a way that is pleasing to the eye. In the main image of this post, the subject is looking directly at the camera. The was probably a test shot as a squared off look isn’t very pleasing regardless of the subject. So, turn your subject to one side, try a 3/4 view – again, there are endless possibilities.
Again, in the above image, you may notice that I’m using a long lens (a 70-200 mm to be exact). I chose this lens, and the distance from the subject so I could introduce some background blur (bokeh is the technical term) in order to force the subject to stand out to the viewer of the image.
There is so, so much more to learn about studio shooting. If you’re interested in this topic, just do a little research and test your equipment and skills. Just don’t pay for a course, unless you really want to.
One final point. The photo above was a remote session. I brought the equipment to a location rather than have it at ‘home base’. You’ll notice that the cables are not secured. Time on location was an issue, so I just warned any subjects to enter the area carefully. If I were going to be there for any length of time, I would have secured all cables to the ground for safety reasons. I will often also use sandbags on the legs of the light-stands to keep them secure. Safety should always be your top concern.