STUDIO LIGHTING TIPS & TRICKS
So you're new to studio or portrait photography, and you really want to get in the studio, but you have reservations!?
Well, that's fine, some people prefer learning in their own time, so I created a bunch of little digestible video 101's with accompanying blogs that go into more detail. There are a lot of things experienced photographers take for granted, and understanding how to set up some basic lighting and how said lights interact with one another, has to be up there. If what I said on the studio day's page got you nervous, then this here is the page for you! I know it's pretty intimidating to new photographers using photography strobe lighting and gear they don't quite understand, and all while in a new environment and with a model; it's a lot to take in and endure. Having a little knowledge of our equipment (and lighting in general) will hopefully get you down here (or elsewhere), and shooting! The rest is confidence, your eye, and experience!
The one piece of advice I'll give you in writing, is that, prosumer studio strobes (the majority that aren't too fancy) typically can't use a higher shutter speed than 200, some 160 possibly, or maybe even 125 to be safe side! Those that can I wouldn't worry about any time soon, as they have different pros and cons you will not face often in the studio. Aside from needing a hotshoe (where you attach an external flash to the top of your camera) for the trigger (again, check out the Studio Days blurb for more info on that), that's all you need in the studio to take an 'exposure' (picture/image) using strobe lighting. A photography strobe pulse of light is so fast that it'll freeze basic movement, so unless you're using a shutter speed that is far too slow (which can be done creatively), a mega zoom, or there is a load of powerful ambient light that you're mixing with the flash; you shouldn't need more than a 125 shutter speed.
If you're getting a black half of an image, or a black boarder above and below.. that is why. That is your camera's shutter curtain in frame, and it happens when your sync speed is too high.. 160/200/250+. This catches everyone out when they first start shooting. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but keeping your shutter between 125 and 160 with very little ambient light, will in most cases do what you need it to do!
Is it still not perfectly sharp, or it's blurry? Well, I've never used a camera yet where everything if perfect 100% of the time, but it's possible you're underexposing the shot. Having a bad exposure will lead to poor quality images. As mentioned prior, it could be that there's too much ambient light too. This means there is enough light to 'expose' your subject, and your camera moving while you're holding it is enough to create blur before the strobe light freezes it.. this used creatively is called 'dragging the shutter', but not ideal for your average studio image. To check your ambient light, simply take the same shot with your strobe settings but with the strobe lights turned off, and if there's enough light to see details in the image; your camera is exposing that light too. That will drastically increase the chance of any camera shake from an unsteady grip, or any movement from the model.
Photography 101's v2.0
An introduction to strobe lighting:
The biggest and best advice once you get the basics down however, is, that NOTHING will beat continuing to read, watch, learn, shoot, and then reread and so on, as that will hone your most import skill, your eye! Your eye will ultimately be responsible for how you enjoy using light, and it'll help develop and shape your style, even at an unconscious level. The purpose of these 101's is ultimately to point your eye in the right direction, give you confidence, and to get you thinking and looking for ways of reading the lighting and camera information to get consistent correct exposures while using the academic basics. You can break these rules at a later date to get creative should you wish, but knowing that the biological, rather than metaphoric eye, can also deceive, it pays to know the rules before breaking them!! Once you have that (everyone should keep learning and adjusting) mostly in the bag, you can enjoy the crazy world of portraiture and produce awesomely professional, quirky & creative images to your own taste!
Studio Photography 101's v1
During lock down, and to stay vaguely productive while beating off boredom, I put together these (dodgy) bite size snippets of information to get you more comfortable with the gear and location without ever having to step foot in it. These were narrated by local photographer Alex Bytheway (because I didn't wanna), and shot in landscape format.. which you'd think would make sense for video, but not in 2022 when #shorts and reels are all the rage! You could say i was almost ahead of the curve! Anyways, as per above, they cover all of our current strobes, and a few ways of setting them up to get great results.. plus a few more advanced tips and tricks.