Monday, November 5, 2012

Studio Lighting Equipment

Sorry I have been so busy lately. It was my birthday and for that special day my wife and I headed down to Las Vegas for the Pumpkinman triathlon (sans kids). We had a complete blast. Except for the burned Chicken Alfredo afterwards, it was a pretty great race. Before that I shot a wedding video for my old boss at JayLynn Studios, and I got some new studio lighting equipment. You see, I try to only spend what I earn with my photography on photography equipment. So obviously, the more jobs that I get, the more that I can spend. The only exception to this rule for me is gallery work, because submitting to galleries is such a great thing for a teaching resume' that I just find the money somewhere. Anyway, I digress. This post is all about some studio lighting equipment that I just purchased from Now I don't know if you have noticed, but throughout this blog I try and talk about how to do things frugally, because let's face it, the average photographer does not have $10k to spend on lighting equipment. So here is a run down of my set up.
First a picture.
So, there are a few problems that I ran into. First, my posing table is not big enough, and that is being rectified. It just was not wide enough. I was using our card table and it needed to be about double as wide to prevent creasing of the background.  This particular background is a vinyl background by Savage that is 5 feet by 7 feet. Normally one would purchase a role of background paper for a set up like this, but I went for this vinyl background because I read the reviews that it was a very durable substance, and it proved to be true. A link for this product is below.

The other problem was the light stand that the boom was attached to. I purchased a medium boom, again from adorama. The brand name is Smith Victor. Now I know that Smith Victor's are considered by some to be the low end of lights, but I have had a set of Smith Victor 300 WS strobes and I have not had a reason to complain, with the exception that they are not as strong as their more expensive counterparts. But hey, they're only 300ws and I knew that, It's not like I'm trying to light a cathedral with them. Back to the boom. The boom was very sturdy and seems like it will go a long way. Not much in the way of control, but it's a medium boom, and any light direction adjustments can be done relatively easy from the ground. I just wish that my light stands were a little more heavy duty to help support this heavy boom. 

Next I wanted to get a softbox. Now, the kit that I have came with umbrellas, and don't get me wrong, I have loved using those umbrellas, it really spreads the light around, but I feel like I get more control with a softbox. So when I saw a softbox/umbrella from Interfit, I thought that I should give it a try. I must admit, there could have been a little more control, but I was pleasantly surprised by this little baby. The light was soft and it didn't go everywhere (much better than a traditional umbrella). The results are as follows.

I must say, none too shabby. I got the results I was looking for, and what I expected. Please excuse the poor glass. I just picked it up at the local dollar tree, and after looking at it closely, there is definitely some warping in the upper left hand corner, and down lower towards the neck, but I thought it looked nice. Glass Photography 101. I think I might do a little webisode on how to set this one up. Anyway, the link for the softbox/umbrella is below.

Lastly, I picked up a background stand. This is something I am so glad that I picked up. I like it, nice and sturdy, perfect for an individual or small group portrait shot. I wouldn't put anything really big on it, but it works for what I am doing. Plus, if I am not using the background stand, I can use it to support the boom. It's made by Flashpoint, which I believe is owned by Adorama. They have some great deals on some entry level equipment and beyond. I would check them out. Link it below.

Well there you have it. The only other thing I used was some illustration board that I picked up at, you guessed it, the dollar store. I spray painted one of them black to get that nice outline on the glass, and then I used home depot clips to hold them up. If I had more stands, I would have used those to hold em up, or an assistant, but my wife was busy making my daughter's Halloween costume.

Hope this helps for anyone who is looking at setting up a home studio. My advice, don't just put up a wrinkly sheet and a desk lamp and call it good. The key is control, and the more control you have, the better your images will be. The hard thing is, that control usually costs some money. But it doesn't have to be a lot, and that is why I am writing this blog, I want to help show you ways to create great photography, and not spend a fortune.
Good Luck.