STUDIO LIGHTING TIPS & TRICKS
So you're new to studio or portrait photography and you really want to get in the studio.. but it's scary right? 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. 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 someone experienced knocking about whom you fear may be judging you!? Well don't worry, I expect new photographers not to be versed, I remember it well, in fact I'd be more worried that I came off condescending while giving advice if you seemed pensive, so just ask. I'd prefer you to be honest so I can help, than to be arrogant or too fearful that you go at it alone and cause breakages.
The one piece of advice I'll give you in advance and not in video form (although I probably will as well), 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! Aside from a hotshoe (where you attach an external flash on top of your camera) for the trigger, that's all you need in the studio to take an exposure with lights. 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 loads of ambient light that you're mixing with the flash, you shouldn't need more than 125.
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! It's still not sharp, or it's blurry? Well it's possible you're underexposing the shot and/or there's too much ambient light. To check your ambient light, simply take the same shot with your strobe settings but with the strobes turned off, and if there's plenty of light 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.