Thursday, 30 May 2013

Umbrellas, reflectors, softboxes... essential tools for your studio

So, now that i have you thinking about the space you would want to use for a home photography studio, and gave you some information on backdrops... lets look at lighting tools...

There are a few basic tools you can use to modify your light no matter if you are using natural light, flash, strobes or constant lighting. I could get much more indepth, but I figured we should look at the basics first to et you started.

Photoflex 5 in1 reflector
Reflectors are a great tool whether you are in the studio or shooting outside using abient lighting to light your subject. Reflectors do exactly what you would think; they reflect the light. Reflectors come in multiple sizes, can be white, silver, gold, black, or come in a multi disk kit where one reflector will have all these surfaces in one.

I would tend to go towards a multi reflector as it gives you all the necessary surfaces and somes in one convenient kit... they are also easy to stoare and collapsable so you can easily take them with you.

They also come in a variety of sizes and shapes. A search online will show you what options are available. Chances are you will be shooting without an assistant so you might want to look at a square or rectangle reflector. Thce and position than the circular ones. As for size of a refelctor for a studio... go with something larger than a 40" square... it casts more light on your subject that the smaller reflectors.

If you have been looking at various lighting kits might have you wondering whether you should go for an umbrella or softbox setup for your studio.

So which is better? There’s no absolute solution to this question as they both have pros and cons. Both essentially modify and filter light to make it softer and less harsh when it hits the subject.

Photoflex silver lined umbrella
Umbrellas are usually cheaper and fairly versatile. They often come with a reflective cover that allows you to shoot light into the umbrella and have it bounce back out or simply filter the light right through the material with the cover removed.  They come in different sizes and can be purchased with different colored canopies, each effecting light.

Umbrellas can spread light out over a wide area and are therefore great for large rooms or groups of people. Finally, umbrellas are quicker to setup and tear down than softboxes.

Photoflex strobe softbox

Softboxes tend to be a little pricier but they allow you to focus and control your light in a small area a lot better than umbrellas. These are perfect for when you’re shooting a single subject or are confined to a smaller area. Softboxes also make for much less distracting reflections than the shape you’ll get from the umbrella.

Photoflex Grid for Softbox

Light modifiers can be attached to both your umbrella or softbox. Modifiers can be diffusers, grids, egg carton style modifiers, etc… they take your lighting to a new level and should be something you consider when you get more experience with using a lighting source to photograph a subject.

Most professional photographers would prefer to have a few different sized umbrellas or softboxes to be used in various situations. Softboxes for example come in a variety of sizes and depth; each used for different techniques.... soft focus for just head shots, large, even lighting for models that are standing... the applications are numerous and you should consult your sales person at your local camera shop to get more information about what is right for your needs.

But if you have a limited budget and are just getting started, umbrellas are a perfect first step. check out Photoflex's website to see the variety of products that you can choose from.

A few other essentials for your home studio...
1 - fans to circulate the air or to use for effect in your images
2 - a low playing radio to create some ambient noise. Music creates a better mood.

Come back tomorrow when we discuss props and costumes for your model.