Umbrella lighting shooting session

Everything started back in February when I got an extra canon Speedlight flash. Wireless off-camera lighting seemed fun and my portfolio was glaring with some new great additions. A few months later I got a chance to play with three 580EX flashes and a Gary Fong diffuser. Even without reading about or studying off-camera lighting, the idea of having full control over the lighting of the scene/subject seemed rather fun :).

Last week I ordered two inexpensive light stands and umbrellas. I thought it would be nice to learn some studio lighting techniques and just play around with side-lighting, but at that point I was really underestimating the full power of soft umbrella lighting.

I got my friend Lily to help me plan the photo shooting session. While she was picking the location and outfit for our model (a friend), I was trying to figure out how to provide the power for Lily’s 120v fan. The solution was a portable 12v-to-120v in-car adapter connected to an old 12v battery. It provided enough power for the fan to raise the hair. (Quick tip: fan is a must-have for such sessions ;)).

I quickly ran through Strobist’s off-camera lighting tips. Clear explanations, stunning results. Everything seemed to be easy and complex at the same time ;).

Here comes shooting day. Sunday. I grab around $5000 worth of photography equipment and head to the designated location (abandoned house, dirt all over the place, grunge, basically ruins :)). Setting up umbrellas for the first time with no previous experience in studio lighting actually did not seem that hard. Since it was pretty light outside and there was a good amount of sunlight getting through the broken windows, the camera settings were adjusted to eliminate all the natural light that was getting in – ISO 50, 1/200 shutter speed, f/2.8-4.0. This was an average exposure setting, the shutter speed varied time to time, but the ISO was always set to 50.

It took us about 3 hours to complete the session, but the result was worth the efforts, investments, and time spent figuring out where to place the umbrella :)).

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3 Responses to “Umbrella lighting shooting session”

  1. xynthian Says:

    Came across your blog when I was learning lighting in youtube. Great photosets you have here. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nathan Says:

    Absolutely incredible, inspiring results for a first time out. stunning to say the least. Im hoping to get more into this very very soon.

  3. Kyle Says:

    I loved this shoot on YouTube. Would you please explain some of the Photoshop adjustments you made? I saw lots of work using curves adjustment layers, and always realized that was a very powerful tool. Thanks!

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