Lighting Expert: Simon Ellingworth
This year Simon Ellingworth was a finalist in the International iPhone Photography Awards, Mobile Photography Awards & Professional Photographer of the Year, last year I was runner up in Professional Photographer of the Year and Sony World Photography Awards. [selected from 121,000 images from 171 countries]
This year Simon photography education blog based upon the premise ‘buying a better camera won’t make you a better photographer’ aimed at smart phone, tablet, GoPro and traditional photographers called Lightism. His easy to follow tutorials have been published by some of the biggest blogs in the world.
Lightism is gaining a huge global following and contacts 10 free lessons and loads of super simplified photography articles even your Dad would understand.
A SUPER EASY & CHEAP GUIDE TO STROBIST PHOTOGRAPHY:
If you want to take your DSLR (or compact camera) photography to the next level you should checkout the Strobist movement….sounds painful, but it simply means using flash guns (now called strobes) not sat on top of your camera.
In this article I’ll show you a super cheap flexible kit which I’ve used for professional shoots for years and hopefully demystify this wonderful subject.
SUPER CHEAP KIT:
Yes, you can spend a fortune, but frankly I won a ‘Sony World Photography Award’ with this kit, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend a fortune + I put black insulation tape over the branding anyway! Plus, this must be the smallest & cheapest studio in a bag ever!
2 x Strobes – YONGNUO YN460 (£20-£30 each from Ebay) – Total £40
2 x Wireless triggers – YONGNUO RF-602 (one sender two receivers) from Ebay – £25
2 x Lollipod ultra-light weight, compact light stands – (£29.99 each) – Total £60
The Lollipods can be used as light stands & booms, etc. I have two different coloured ones and if I have an assistant refer to them as the Blue light and the Green light to make life simple
Some people recommend umbrellas, but I purchased them and really never used them much.
That’s it total spend = £125 for two strobes, stands and wireless triggers…mad hay!
Moving the strobes off camera, gives us infinitely more creative control as they can be positioned anywhere in or outside the picture.
You can shoot in any mode providing the shutter speed 1/125th of a second OR LOWER.
The smaller your light source the harsher the quality and the stronger the shadows, therefore bare bulb is harsh and bouncing off a wall is softer.
With strobes, the quality of the light varies and often the most interesting light is on the ended of the spread, so do experiment.
The intensity of each light can be varied independently in three ways:
1) primarily by varying the power setting on the back of each strobe (independently)
2) by varying the distance to the subject
3) Bouncing the light off a wall or other surface
4) by placing a ‘light modifier’ between the strobe and the subject.
A quick word on light modifiers, they can be anything that changes the quality, shape, colour or brightness of the light. If you bounce of a wall, then the wall is a modifier.
They can be expensive to homemade and here is a great source of homemade ones.
Softbox – Essentially a box with a white sheet on the front which softens the light, before you spend a penny checkout this homemade selection
Grid Spot – Focuses the light into a tight spot light (mine is totally DIY)
Ring Light – From homemade to an Orbis (which I use)
A) Checkout the resource section and get some inspiration for your chosen subject, find a picture you like and try to replicate it. An inanimate subject is a good start point until you get more confident. I often shoot at home in the pitch dark, so I can quickly see what the light is doing or the effect of any adjustment.
B) Attach a receivers to each of the strobes and then mount each onto a Lollipods. Turn them on and press the button on the trigger and both strobes should fire, if not make sure they are on the same channel with the dip switches on each piece. Now turn both of the strobes off.
Don’t forget the Lollipod can be used as a Boom with the legs closed, so don’t restrict your thinking about where you position the strobes.
C) I want you to start thinking in layers of light, as that is how we will build our picture. Lets start by utilising any ambient light and don’t worry if your subject is still dark as you now have two lights to play with. In my example below, I’m shooting in the pitch black and the ambient light is the contents of a military glow stick, lighting the closest egg from the inside when exposed for a few seconds:
This simple method works with any subject from people to cars.
Strobist.com is a great site and David Hobby is father of the movement.
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All Images Copyright Simon Ellingworth