Up and Running with Studio Strobes
Illustration by

Up and Running with Studio Strobes

with Abba Shapiro and Richard Harrington

Video: Criteria for selecting lights

I think one of the hardest things folks struggle A good solid light is a lot better to have.
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  1. 4m 6s
    1. Welcome
      2m 4s
    2. What you should know to get the most from this course
      2m 2s
  2. 6m 26s
    1. Shooting with strobes
      1m 23s
    2. Strobe lighting allows you to shoot with an increased depth of field
    3. Strobe lighting has faster recharge times than flashes
      1m 39s
    4. Strobe lighting is good at freezing action
    5. Strobe lighting offers many modifiers to shape light
      1m 38s
  3. 7m 34s
    1. Continuous lighting is easier for a beginner to understand
      1m 47s
    2. Continuous lighting makes it easier to achieve soft-light looks
      2m 57s
    3. Continuous lighting is useful if mixing video into the shoot
      2m 50s
  4. 20m 47s
    1. Buying piecemeal vs. buying a kit
      2m 29s
    2. Criteria for selecting lights
      5m 57s
    3. How many lights do you need?
      3m 0s
    4. How much power do you need
      5m 37s
    5. Mixing brands
      3m 44s
  5. 16m 40s
    1. Monolights and flash heads
      2m 22s
    2. Reflectors and diffusers
      3m 54s
    3. Lighting stands and booms
      3m 49s
    4. Power pack or power supplies
      4m 29s
    5. Sync cable
      2m 6s
  6. 19m 7s
    1. Handling the lamp or bulb
      2m 52s
    2. The role of the modeling light
      4m 36s
    3. Keeping lights cool
      1m 46s
    4. The master and slave relationship for lighting
      4m 5s
    5. Essential controls
      5m 48s
  7. 14m 59s
    1. Connecting the sync cable
      3m 16s
    2. Using a wireless transmitter
      7m 7s
    3. Slaving with a speedlight
      4m 36s
  8. 34m 6s
    1. Setting shutter sync speed
      4m 56s
    2. Setting an initial aperture and ISO
      2m 28s
    3. Controlling power output
      3m 1s
    4. Moving lights (the inverse-square rule)
      2m 8s
    5. Using a light meter in camera
      4m 4s
    6. Using an external light meter
      1m 45s
    7. Test shooting with one light at a time
      2m 5s
    8. Putting it all together
      1m 39s
    9. Controlling exposure with power or aperture
      1m 6s
    10. Refining exposure with ISO
      1m 39s
    11. Tethering to a laptop
      5m 22s
    12. Checking the shots on a computer
      3m 53s
  9. 31m 38s
    1. Modifying strobe lights
      1m 9s
    2. Bouncing the light with a reflector
      4m 26s
    3. Bouncing the light with a bounce card
      1m 12s
    4. Shaping the light with a beauty dish
      3m 5s
    5. Diffusing the light with an umbrella
      5m 50s
    6. Diffusing the light with a softbox
      4m 49s
    7. Focusing the light with a snoot
      6m 58s
    8. Modeling the light with grids and honeycombs
      2m 2s
    9. Using flags to restrict the light
      2m 7s
  10. 14m 50s
    1. Three-light setup
      6m 52s
    2. Three-light dramatic portrait
      4m 59s
    3. Four-light setup
      2m 59s
  11. 46m 56s
    1. Take the challenge
    2. Solution
    3. Portrait challenge 1
      8m 6s
    4. Portrait challenge 2
      3m 10s
    5. Portrait challenge 3
      12m 55s
    6. Portrait challenge 4
      3m 19s
    7. Portrait challenge 5
      4m 28s
    8. Portrait challenge 6
      9m 5s
    9. Portrait challenge 7
      4m 29s
  12. 39s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with Studio Strobes
3h 37m Beginner Nov 15, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Rich Harrington and Abba Shapiro give beginning photographers a brisk look at using strobe lights in a studio setting—lessons that easily translate to the field and locations, inside and out. Learn why shooting with strobes and continuous lighting makes such a big impact on your photographs, and how to buy a good, affordable starter kit. Rich and Abba also show how to set your gear up, trigger your lights, and make modifications with accessories like reflectors, umbrellas, and soft boxes. Finally, learn how to make the most of what you have in a series of lighting challenges.

Topics include:
  • Why shoot with strobes?
  • Buying a lighting setup or parts
  • Mixing brands
  • Understanding the components of a studio strobe kit
  • Getting to know your lights
  • Triggering a light
  • Setting up your lights effectively
  • Testing your strobes
  • Modifying strobe lights
Abba Shapiro Richard Harrington

Criteria for selecting lights

I think one of the hardest things folks struggle with when they get ready to get into strobe lighting, and even as they move through their career of working with them, is what lights do I buy? You know, not just the quantity and everything else, but the actual criteria. And let's start by diffusing a few myths. For example, the one that I think that is really out there, and the hardest one is like, in front me here I have a budget light, and, and you have the Lexus model there. >> I have a ridiculously expensive light, which means that anytime I buy any parts for it. >> Yeah.

>> They're expensive. >> So why do some light costs more than others? >> Well, there's a lot of factors involved with why one light maybe less expensive than another one. quality of the built. If you are like me and you're and your constantly are knocking your lights over. A good solid light is a lot better to have. >> Yeah. There, there's this whole spectrum, you know? When you go out and you look at what are some of the brands that the pros are using. Don't necessarily feel like you have to buy the Mercedes if it's your first time driving a car.

>> Oh, absolutely as a matter of fact. It's sometimes better to learn on a less expensive set of lights. And then move up. You can either sell the kit or sell the lights and move to something because you have need for some of the parameters that this light has that that light might not. It also goes back to the old idea of a camera. People will come up to you on the street and they'll say great picture. What camera did you use? Which is really frustrating because it's like going to somebody's house and eating a meal and asking them what oven do they have? >> Right.

>> And you know, it's the same thing with light. If you know how to work with lights, it doesn't matter if they're reasonably priced or ridiculously priced. It's really down to you getting to know your tool. >> I will say though, that there are times when the brand matters and this really deals with who's your clientèle. If you are shooting for your own enjoyment, or you are shooting in a corporate environment, or weddings, or events, most people aren't going to even care what gear you use. They're just gonng judge you by the photos.

On the other hand, if you are shooting advertising, and you have art directors coming into your studio. They're going to know the brands that the last photographer they hired used, and they're going to know which ones matter, and they may even make weird requests and want to compare what gear they own to what gear you own. This isn't saying it's right, it's just the reality, so you have to decide what is sort of the league that you want to play in when you're choosing a brand. Now, brands aside, the brand will have a ripple effect to all of the other things, right, because it's not just the light.

>> Well, yeah, there's, there's a lot of things that can drive the cost of a light in addition to marketing funds. >> Yeah. >> And the manufacturing materials. For instance, some lights will recharge faster than others. So if you're in an environment where you want to be able to snap snap snap, and you want to be able to not worry that this light won't be ready when you're ready, You may want to go with a light that has faster recharge. >> Yeah. And that doesn't necessarily mean more expensive. But it does mean, dig into the specs. And one of those other specs that's going to matter is the CRI, which is really how accurate the color is.

With each flash, is it going to be giving you consistent results? Or are you going to see variation? >> That's actually very important. And a lot of people do not take that into account. Because, when you take a picture, the flash has to recharge. And it will let you flash again before it's fully recharged but when that happens the color might be different or it be a half a stop, you know, less bright. And your image is going to suffer because of that. >> And I would encourage when you're looking at which type of kit or lights to buy to consider the very important factor of, what sort of accessories do I need? Some lights are going to use very standard features and, you know, I want to put a modifier on the front of this light.

I can buy a generic brand, or I could buy several choices. Other lights are more proprietary with their connections, and so I would recommend that you go to the camera store or go to the online vendor and just look at what accessories are listed to work with that light. Are there budget alternatives or how much more expensive are the bulbs for that light how often do you have to change them. Abba, I'm just going to call you out on this. You had no shame, and I have no shame on this. You bought these lights used, because somebody else was upgrading their kit, right? >> Absolutely. As a matter of fact, sometimes you can get amazing deals on a used light kit.

When I bought this kit, parts of it were still in the plastic. And I would say, I got this for about a third of its retail value and I'm thrilled with that I got great lights for the money but that ripple effect any time I buy a modifier this brand has a very specific mounting system and because of that. I usually have to go with their product as opposed to a third party product. And it's going to cost me a lot more to add say, a beauty dish or a soft box to this system.

Where another system there might be a lot of generics out there. And you can interchange them. So to wrap this point up, I would just say when you're trying to choose the brand of the light, make sure you look at the entire ecosystem. Be willing to look and see if there's any generic features or other supporting players that make parts that are compatible. Talk to a couple of vendors or retailers, get some feedback from them, and don't be afraid to look at used gear. You really are making an investment, but the good news is, is that when you make this investment the stuff is going to last, theoretically, for quite sometime.

>> Now, I know people that used the same lights for 10, 15 years. This technology doesn't change as fast as camera technology. And though there are some shifts happening now, basically a light is a light. >> Mm-hm. >> And if you know how to use it, you can get some amazing images. >> All right, next we're going to take a look at exactly how many lights to do you need so you could really start to put together a budget for your kit.

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