I’ve gotten a LOT of questions about my studio & its lighting. Which, if some of you didn’t already know, is my studio is my living room. I am by NO means a lighting expert! But I can share what I tried and what seemingly works for me.
When I started shopping for lighting, like any of my other gear, I went straight to ebay to check prices & kit set ups. I found a kit that was reasonable: 2 backdrop stands, cross bar (to hold backdrop), 2 muslin backdrops (white & black), 2 light stands with light holders, 2 CFL 35watt studio bulbs, 2 shoot white shoot through umbrellas and a storage bag … all for $160 (free shipping).
I was so excited thinking it was all I would EVER need! But after setting it all up I found myself shopping for brighter bulbs. I couldn’t get the “look” I was after with the bulbs that came with the kit.
After LOTS of research (mostly on The Strobist’s website), I decided to use a speedlight set up instead of the bulbs. So, I saved up all my pennies and got a Canon 580ex ($450) from Dell and some “ebay triggers” ($40) from Hong Kong. I got a Westcott 28″ Softbox ($140) for my birthday that year and after a generous donation of a second slave flash & 2nd ebay trigger, LumPro LP120 ($149), I was all set! … well, I’ve added a few bed sheets to my kit but that’s about it.
So, those are the pieces of gear I use. How to make those work is up to you!! It was a LOT of trial & error and I still play with my settings depending on what I’m doing but here’s how I set those pieces up:
- Backdrop with muslin (or white/black sheet), bed sheets on ground
- 580ex flash in the softbox for my main light (triggered with ebay receiver) to camera right
- slave flash in shoot through umbrella for fill (triggered with ebay receiver) to camera left
- Ebay trigger on my camera
- sometimes I use those original bulbs for hair light from back by the backdrop stand … sometimes I just use window light for that (depends on the time of day/sky outside)
And that’s about it! I pack this set up to shoot Newborns in their homes. I use it to shoot everything from families, silhouettes, and preggies with this same set up. There’s no special “recipe” on how to make it work – depends on the look you’re going for and the amount of practice you’re willing to put into it.
But here are some of my 1st practice shots & some of my lastest work with this same set up … so there’s hope for you too!
1 of the 1st shots with bulbs & kit
Bulbs & kit
Bulbs & kit
1st practice shots with Flash in Softbox
1st session with 2nd flash added to kit
2 flash set up (which is what I still use)
Recent Maternity session with this set up
So, you can see even with the same set up – practice, practice, practice is really what has made a difference!
Email me if you have any questions!! I’m always glad to help … and thanks for stopping by!