Small Flashes with Stunning Light (video!)

When out on-location doing portraits for weddings, seniors or any type of shoot, sometimes you need an EASY and portable way to get the job done AND make the images look beautiful. Speedlites are great for portability, but other than not having a lot of power output, their biggest issue is the QUALITY of the light is not so good. They look harsh and “flashy” and rarely produce AMAZING light. In this short video shot on-location in Nevada, we show you how to not only execute great flash shots using a speedlite, but how to make that light look AMAZING on your subject!     Gear used: Canon 85 1.2 L lens  Canon 5d3 Body Cyber Sync Transmitters and receivers (the CST and CSRB models) Rapid Box 26 inch from Westcott Lighting with the deflector... Read More

Reception Lighting Basics – Bounce Flash

There is NO greater photography fear than walking into a reception hall and not being sure if you can capture the moments the way you envision them. There are sooo many variables in dark-lit venues that can sometimes be daunting! You have to be able to overcome all sorts of lighting issues like bouncing light off of glass windows, mirrors, dark or heavily colored walls, walls that are so far away you don’t have enough power to reach them. There is a lot to talk about and we are going to cover all of it, and today we will start with the basics. BOUNCE FLASH. Today we are going to keep it simple and build our foundation for shooting the first dance. So, we walk into the reception and here is the scenario (in posts to come we are going to work our way through other scenarios that pose other lighting problems and how to conquer them). We have: – A dance floor with a stage or DJ in corner of the room – Light or white ceilings and white walls – Our super hot couple about to have their first dance What do we do to get great looking images in this scenario using nothing but our bounce flash that is on our camera? 1. We find the best place to shoot from The best vantage point to shoot from in this type of situation is NOT where the crowd of people are standing and watching the first dance. Usually, family friends are standing in a half-moon or U shape around the couple and everyone is facing somewhat... Read More

3 easy tricks to Take Locations from Boring to Brilliant

We are Zach and Jody Gray and we have had the amazing privilege of working with photographers all over the world enabling them to shoot better images, run more profitable business and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. We hope you enjoy this post on off-camera lighting! -Zach & Jody     Isn’t it great how EVERY time you go out on a shoot, all the locations are just picture perfect, the lighting is awesome and you don’t even need to think about what to do because all the shots just “happen” the whole session? I love that! Unfortunately, that actually never happens. MOST of the time when we are out on-location shooting, we create images in places that at first glance, don’t always appear to be amazing. Today, we want to share with you the 3 tricks that we use to make average locations look AMAZING! We will be using 3 set-ups from our recent New York City photo-shoot workshop that we did with Adorama.   Set-Up #1 – Reflective Background with BAD lighting: Our first goal at ANY shoot is to of course find great lighting (and that should always be your goal too). But, some days the lighting just all around stinks, so we will then start looking for good locations that WOULD look good if the lighting were better. Trick #1, Find Cool Backgrounds and add flash Once we find an interesting location, then we use lighting to make it work. Good locations that I personally tend to gravitate towards with lighting are reflective backgrounds (like metal walls, which are great because when my flash hits it, it... Read More

4 Fast Steps to Easily Light your Backgrounds (video)

Are you ready to take your lighting to the NEXT level and light up the environment? Today we are going to show you EXACTLY how to do it with step by step instructions AND a video showing it in action! In order to turn the image you see below (natural light) into what you see above, you need to follow these steps in order to get great resutls with NO guess work!   Step 1.  Have the right gear & Location The gear we use to do shots like this are any type of main light (like the Rapid Box from Westcott), and then a speedlight with a tungsten gel over it to really make it interesting.    Natural Light Shot:(ambient light reading was ISO 100, f/4 at 1/100th shutter)   The locations that work best for these type of shots are ones that have even overall lighting (this was on a city street in Nashville with all indirect lighting), and ones that have a small area with a little less light.   This area had a metal doorway indent that had less light in it than the rest of the wall around it. It has LOW overall light (so the speedlight can over-power it) and the background was reflective which makes the light look interesting.   Step 2. Under-Expose the ambient by 2 stops (ambient light under-exposed by 2 stops)    In order to have the background look dynamic, you have to make sure that the ambient light doesn’t wash everything out. So, to do that, we need to under-expose the background by around 2 stops. We metered the ambient light to read ISO 100, 1/200th shutter at... Read More

3 essential tricks for stunning speedlight portraits

What if you could use the lighting gear that is probably already in your camera bag to shoot incredible lit shots of your couple’s that LOOK LIKE you used studio strobes? You can!     On Today’s Tuesday Tips and Tricks we will show you the 3 essential tricks for stunning speedlight portraits that look like you had large studio strobes on your shot!   1. Modifiers: When you use the RIGHT modifier for your speedlights, you can create stunning portraits with minimal amounts of gear. The MAIN light is the most important one because it will give the majority of the light to your subjects face and body. We have been using the Westcott Rapid box for speedlights because it does a few things REALLY well. It is EASY and Fast to set up (pops open like an umbrella). It is very light weight which is great for not adding sweat to your already long days shooting. The QUALITY of the light is outstanding! The reason the light is so good, is because the Rapid Box does a great job of spreading the light out evenly when it comes out the front of the box and therefore creates ultra soft, buttery light which looks great on anyone! The other two modifiers on this shot (which are not necessary to use, but fun to have in the shot), are two Westcott Rapid Box strip banks. 2. Control (Ambient Light Only) Control over your modifier and Speedlight POWER is critical to making the images work for your style. For the style of this shot, we wanted it to look more like we were... Read More

Artist Album Cover Shoot |Lainey Wright

We photographed new recording Artist Lainey Wright awhile back and are stoked to share not only the images with you, but some behind the scenes shots and set ups as well! Check out the shoot! We started off shooting in the amazing Westlight Studio in Franklin, TN which has some awesome set-ups and gear for any type of photo and even some video work! Check them out if you’re interested in a rental and tell them we sent you. Here is the set-up of this series of images. I loved the natural light coming through the windows, and after our direction meeting with the artist, we knew that she wanted a softer look to the shots. So, with that in mind, we intentionally slowed the shutter down to drag some of that natural light in and wrap around Lainey to give it that soft airy look. We also have a large, 39 inch Deep Octo light modifier from Elinchrom as our main light pictured to the left, and two 40 degree grid back lights for separation. We decided to do one contrasty lit shot on this background, even though I knew she wanted that soft look to the shots. She ended up picking one of these images, so we are glad we did it! We set up a 22 inch silver soft Beauty Light which gives a very directional light that is ultra soft when used in close. We then added a 40 degree grid to the background light and the kicker light pictured to camera right in the behind the scenes shot. We dropped the kicker light -1 stop lower... Read More

Promo Shoot Fashion Lighting

We had the awesome fun of shooting Stephen Knuth & Scarlett Lillian‘s promo material for their new blog site back in April, and now we wanted to take you through a few of the images and show you exactly how we did some of the more advanced off-camera lighting techniques that we used. You ready? Here we go! Today we are going to show you exactly how we pulled this shot off in Jacksonville, Florida while shooting this promo. We shot a lot of cool shots in a local restaurant that had a really cool vibe, then headed back toward the Knuth’s place for the last set-up. On the way, we spotted this really cool metal door behind an old abandoned building, so we headed over to check it out. This area was in the shade from the hot sun, and some light was bouncing off the sky and coming back into this open shaded area. I (Zach) knew that the in-direct sun that was coming into this area would act as a great fill-light (to fill in any shadows that we would create with the flashes), so we decided to shoot it. That is the exciting thing about flash photography, is even though the lighting here was nothing too killer, we could shape and create a look with our flashes and make it look really cool! Here is the set up. The natural light, as you can see in the above shot, was metered at F/5, ISO 50 at 1/100th of a second. So, in order to pull of the shot, all we really had to do was... Read More

Tuesday Tips & Tricks | Rockin the Perfect Silhouette!

“We are taking time off spending time with baby Gray, but have put together our favorite Tips and Tricks from the last two years for us all to review!” Tuesday Tips & Tricks..REVISITED! Hey all! Today’s tips and tricks is all about how to get that perfect silhouette of your client every time! Have you ever been shooting your client and decided that you wanted to get that really nice silhouette shot of them, but then started to wonder what to base your exposure off of? Should it be a sliver of light on the rim of them from behind, or the sun, or somewhere in between? Here is how we do it. We were out shooting a new pop-rock band last week, Red Letter, and we were doing this wild lit shot with 3 strobes and Jody leaned over to me and reminded me to grab a silhouette shot. Whew! Glad she did! So, in the midst of shooting a completely different shot, I did a quick change up and got the next image without using the White Diffusion Westcott Parabolic Umbrella that you see in the above shot. The trick that we use to get great back-lit silhouette shots is we set our camera exposure for the sky. When the sky is perfectly exposed, that is when our subjects will turn black like you see in the above shot. Here is how we do it: 1. Point our camera to an area of the sky that is being lit by the sun, not at the sun itself (in the shot above, we pointed our camera between the... Read More
Nashville, TN Photography Workshops, photography workshops, nashville, tn photography

4 Ways to Backlight your Clients

This week, we are going to focus on a simple topic of lighting our client with background lights, and what angles to use when doing it. Background light on our subject is awesome because it creates a great deal of added contrast and separation to our final image. It can also be really cool when it is in the shot and creates flare which gives a cool glow to our couples. So, the question is, where do you put the light in the background to give it the desired effect? Let’s look at a few shots and break them down. Shooting Through In this first image, which is a photo from an engagement session from 2008, we have some serious background lighting going on, so let’s show you exactly what we were thinking to pull this one off. As you can see in the above lighting diagram, the main light is off to camera right lighting the face of the couple and our background light (top left) is at a 45 degree angle to the guy’s back and 45 degrees from the cameras perspective. It is pointed directly at his head and shoulders and is about 7 feet high (the best angle for the light to come down at, is also about 45 degrees so that it lights the head first, then trickles down to the shoulders and feet). The easiest way to use a background light, no matter where the light is coming from (strobe, window, sun) is to use the 45 degree method. This puts the light onto the shoulders and hair, but keeps it off of... Read More

Controlling Large Off-camera Lights (Video)

When Jody and I were in Vegas for WPPI we shot a series of videos for Westcott‘s new University demonstrating some of their lighting modifiers and lighting techniques out in this cool old “ghost” town about 45 minutes from the city. We are super excited to finally share the first a few different videos that we produced together and they are all FREE and here on the blog! This first video shows us using the Westcott 7′ parabolic umbrella with the optional DIFF– USER to demo what you can do with one, large powerful light in the worst of lighting conditions. We use some feathering techniques (the details of how to do that are broken down in THIS post) in order to create an extremely soft lighting look, and also used the LEE Filter System in order to shoot at a very shallow depth of field when using high powered strobes. We also used the Elinchrom Ranger (not the Quadra that we use for weddings, but the bigger brother version) so we have plenty of power for the techniques used. Watch the video, then come BACK here to the blog to see in more detail the final images from this part of the shoot! More videos to come and more images!   Behind the scenes of the first set-up (more videos and locations to come!). You can see the light was harsh and not flattering. Here you can see the harsh natural light with NO flash on it. Now you can see the incredible difference it makes adding the flash. The great thing about this LARGE light, is the coverage you... Read More

Seattle Bridal Shoot + Behind the Scenes

Whew! I (Zach) just took my 7.5 month prego wife to Seattle for 6 days and she rocked it like a champ! She is a trooper! :)   We spent a day doing a 1 day Bridal Shoot on creativeLIVE and then popped in to Photo Week with a presentation on how to keep your business from failing. We had a blast and are excited to share some of the images from the shoots that we did!   We went out the day before the live show and shot some outdoor shots in Kerry Park in Seattle. We set up some cool lighting images and some very organic natural ones as well. Below us a breakdown of some of the shots and some behind the scenes too! We will post a few more blogs from the rest of the shoots we did coming SOON! Check it out!   This first set up the natural lighting was pretty flat due to the overcast morning. We decided to do a 4 light set up and had our main light to camera left, fill light to camera right, then the 2 kicker lights (show here) for some wow factor. While I was shooting the lit shot, Jody was grabbing some details of the brides shows and dress. Here you can see the shot with just one of the kicker lights firing. This gives you an idea of what the lighting was doing and how much we were overpowering the ambient light (about 2 stops). Here in this behind the scenes shot, you can see the look of the natural light and how... Read More

In The Raw Video Series | Smoke Shot part 1 (Video)

What up everyone! We are excited to bring you a brand new series of lighting videos all about studio lighting. One of  my passions and something that I (Zach) have undertaken during our year sabbatical from shooting weddings, is finally getting to do more personal work. I love shooting controlled portraits and am excited to share more of how I have shot some of the images I have been doing lately.   Now, many wedding and portrait photographers have moved away from studio shooting due to the high costs of renting spaces and the complexity of the gear. Well, this video series is going to show you how to shoot in a simple space and create some dramatic lighting with some really cool techniques. If you shoot bridal shoots, senior shoots, family or other portrait sessions, then adding some studio style shots could be a great creative outlet for you and give your clients something really unique that many photographers are not doing.  The shots you will see were photographed right inside our house (garage or other spaces) and even though we are using some Elinchrom gear, you could do this with equipment that costs much less. To download our entire gear list, go HERE to get it for free!   Now, on to today’s video and final image:   (Video Part 1 of 2) Thanks for checking out the video and come back next week to see how I composite the smoke and final image into the completed shot! If you like this video, share it by using one of the sharing links below and leave a comment letting... Read More

Compositing Backgrounds into an Image

(for a full list of ALL the gear we use and why, get the FREE download HERE) This image is from a video series I am creating called In The Raw where I take complicated lighting scenarios and break them down piece by piece and show you EXACTLY how it is done to the smallest detail. Today, I am going to break down how this shot was done here on the blog and show you some of the tools used and needed in order to create something like this without having to be at this location praying for an awesome sunset. :) Here is how it was done   This is the original image straight out of camera with no editing done to it. I shot the image in my garage on a grey colored seamless background. The reason I used the seamless, is because it gives me a clean consistent background that is easy to remove in Photoshop. The reason that it is gray, and not white (or any other color) is so that we don’t have lots of light bouncing off of it from the flashes and adding more light to the image that is unwanted. Here, in this behind the scenes image, you can see the entire set up. We have a few things going on in this complex set-up which are broken down below. Main Light head – Elinchrom Ranger AS Speed with S Head The main light is powered by this head. It is 1,100 watt seconds and is portable so I can take it on location, use huge modifiers, and overpower the sun at any time of the... Read More

Behind the Scenes In The RAW Videos | Coming Soon

Coming Soon!! We are putting together some video tutorials on how we create dynamic portrait shots and will detail EVERY SINGLE part of the shoot! If you want to be able to create incredible, creative and hyper-real portraits, then this series will be for you. We will show you the idea and thought process, the gear, the lighting, angles and all the post-production to create the final images. These videos are going to be called In The Raw and are being created as we speak!   Want to be the first to hear about this series when it arrives? Sign up for our FREE newsletter HERE and get it before anyone else.... Read More

Behind the Scenes of Red Letter Artist Shoot

  Back in September of 2011 I (Zach) photographed new artist’s Red Letter for their promo packaging and album. We had a blast working with these really young and talented kids and got some cool shots for them. The tough thing about shooting like this, is you have no control of how they further adjust and edit images and how they design around them. :) Today we are going to break down one of the more complicated images and show you how we did it.     This image was hard to pull off and has 3 lights and was a tough location to shoot at. I knew from the weather forecast that the sunset was going to be awesome that night, and there was no way I was going to add the sky in afterward since at the time, that was not my style. I wanted to nail it in-camera with no post-production work. Commercial photographers have it really tough when the label and marketing team wants a specific look and the weather or other factors simply do not permit that, so there are times on shoots like these when you need to add a sky or do some serious photoshop work to get the shot how they want.   For this image, here was the set up, then we can break it down.   As you can see from the ambient light shot, flash was an absolute necessity in order to get the final look that they wanted. Here is what we did: Step one – Control the ambient light The first thing I do is determine (from our pre-production meeting) the type of look they... Read More

On Location Groomsmen Lighting

Happy Holidays!! It’s crazy to think Christmas is right around the corner!  As you’re settling in for the end of the year we want to bring to you a few tips on groomsmen lighting and break it down for you. Today we are going to look at two shots that we did at a recent wedding with the groom and groomsmen and how we shot them. These images were shot on-location at Belle Meade Plantation a few hours before the ceremony. The sun was still pretty high in the sky and we wanted to do more than just stick the guys in shade and take some bland shots, so we looked for a cool composition we liked and then brought out our powerlight to make the shot work. I set up the light and took two test meter readings as the guys were walking over. Once we got them set up as you see them in image one, we took the shot and this was the result. HOW WE DID IT: We metered the main light so that it was twice as bright as the light that was already there (the sunlight). The trick to nailing this type of lighting fast is by understanding how the meter works. The last thing we want to do is take test shots of the guys while they are there, then change settings and so on until we finally get it right. The other trick with shooting more than one person is that many times the person that is closest to the light will be blown out, and then those that are in... Read More

Dramatic Studio Lighting | Burst Shoot

A few months back we had the privilege to shoot a commercial gig for that happens to be owned by our dear friends Nathan and Jenni Oates. These guys were amazing to work with and we all had a blast on the shoot! The images are for their new promo material and for their 4 DVD set. The images needed to be very slick and styled, so we had to change up our shooting style to get the job done!   This shoot was a lot different then what we normally do for wedding images where our brides want that soft, pretty light that makes their skin look painted on. This shoot needed much more of an edge to it with the lighting, but also keeping some of that Zach and Jody style with the soft buttery look. So the first thing we did to achieve that look was to not use our typical 24×32 Wesctott soft-box that we use on all of our lit wedding portraits, and opted instead to use a 22 inch silver beauty dish from Paul C. Buff.   The real benefit and difference between using a soft-box (which is basically like having a big soft window), is with a beauty dish, you still get that soft buttery light when it is used in close, but you have much more dramatic shadows and highlights. Because of the design, it shoots out a narrow, 45 degree beam of light that allows the light to be shaped and placed much more specifically then with a soft-box. The cool thing about the silver vs buying a white... Read More

Glamour Lighting How-To

Lighting styles are the direction you choose to have your light hitting your client to create different styling, or looks on them. You can make a client look 30 pounds lighter (or heavier) just by your choice and direction of your lighting. These styles work with natural light, and with flash, but we are going to focus in on the flash side with this post. But do remember, you can simply replace “soft-box” with sun, reflector or any other light source you encounter.   Mastering the effect of some of the basic lighting styles will not only add some new tools to your photography tool belt, but will also give you much more confidence when you encounter a client that can seem more difficult to photograph. Some clients have round faces, or features that they want minimized, and it is our job as pro’s to help make our clients look their absolute best! So in this series, we are going to show you how to handle tricky situations, bring out the best features of your clients, and take ALL of the guesswork out of it.   When we are headed out to a session (either a wedding or an engagement shoot), one of things that we are thinking about is our “client lighting profile.” Meaning, what type of lighting is going to look great on my client and flatter them, and what type of lighting is going to highlight features that they are not stoked about? You can even go as far as to make some personal notes of lighting that you should, and should not use on that... Read More

Behind the Image, Salt Barn

Jody and I just got back from Toronto where we were guest Keynote Speakers for the Exposure Show and now we are back and rockin out today’s tips! Today, we are going back to a series we started last fall where we take images from weddings and workshops, and break them down for you guys so that you can do them as well! Ready? Here we go!!   So this image above, although it can seem crazy looking, is actually not that difficult to pull off and the entire look was done all in-camera with zero Photoshop! Images like this are something that we do for workshops, for engagement sessions and for bridal shoots (or if we shot senior sessions, this would be something we would rock out) because we have a little bit more time to set them up and light them. The above shot was taken later in the afternoon (about 45 minutes before sunset) in front of this cool salt barn that is just near our house in Franklin. Here is how we did it.   Exposure Settings on the 5D Mark 3 with 24-70L 2.8 lens ISO 100, 2.8, 1/100th of a second Here is an image that we took of the barn with a down the middle exposure trying to capture a little detail in the sky and a small amount of detail in the salt barn itself. As you can see, it is MUCH brighter in the sky (the sun was setting behind the salt barn so it is back lit) and much darker in the foreground of the composition. We wanted to... Read More

Behind the Image

Welcome to this Tuesday’s Photography Tips and Tricks! Your place to get the inside scoop on running your photog biz, shooting stellar in-camera images and more! Today, we are breaking down an image from our January wedding we shot of the amazing Taylor and Matthew. These two were a JOY to work with and we got to shoot so many awesome portraits of the two of them! We are going to break down one of the more difficult scenarios that we had to deal with, and show you exactly what we did to make sure the final result was something our couple would want to hang on their wall. After we had shot their portraits and after the wedding ceremony was over, Matthew and Taylor wanted a few shots in one of their favorite spots in town, the Nashville walking bridge. This location was tough to shoot at because it was freezing cold (24 degrees out!), has cool light on the bridge, but no lights on our couple, AND had the potential to look less than dramatic if not shot right. So we made sure to bring our Elinchrom Quadra lighting rig (our gear list can be downloaded HERE) with our new Elinchrom Deep Octa 39 to rock this out! This is the before.. Here, in this natural lit photo above, you can see just how awful the existing light was. The lighting is flat, has no (good) contrast on it, and their eyes are dark from the direction of the light. This image was also shot at ISO 6400 at 1/60th of second, and the noise is getting... Read More

Monday Giveaway! | Westcott Lighting Parabolic Umbrella!

For this month, every Monday we will be doing a giveaway with either something of ours, or a giveaway from one of the companies we love and use!!! We are going to kick things off with Westcott Lighting. Are you ready to win one of the coolest lighting modifiers on the planet?! Since we began shooting with off-camera lighting, Westcott lighting modifiers have always been a part of what we have used! Here is your chance to win the 7-foot Parabolic Umbrella from Westcott Lighting! Check out what it can do in this past post HERE or click on the image below!!         Here is an image from the umbrella from this past springs IN-CAMERA: Light workshop in Sacramento.   Here’s how you can enter to win: 1. Follow us (Zach & Jody) on Twitter ( 2. Follow Westcott Lighting on Twitter ( 3. Sign up for our Photographer newsletter for free monthly exclusive photo tips & tricks ( 4. Tweet the following message: Text for you to copy: “WIN a @WestcottCo 7-foot Parabolic Umbrella kit w/ @ZachandJody!! More Info –” ABOUT THE PRIZE: Three Umbrella Options: White Diffusion Umbrella White Black Umbrella Silver Umbrella [iframe: width=”560″ height=”345″ src=”” frameborder=”0″] Info about the current parabolic umbrella special: Westcott has paired each of the 7′ Parabolic Umbrellas with a mounting bracket and stand this fall for $149.90!! The promotion only lasts until October 31 or while supplies lasts! Winner will receive: One, 7 foot (yes, you read that right – SEVEN FEET) Parabolic shoot-through Umbrella with mounting bracket, stand, and travel case from Westcott! Value: $149.90... Read More

Lighting a Mountain Top

Today  we are out holding our workshops in Denver teaching shooting and business & marketing workshops. However, we did want to share a cool image that was taken yesterday at our IN-CAMERA: Light workshop and show the set-up! How did we get this awesome shot with the our fab model, Chad? First, we want to show you what the natural lighting looked like. During Sunday’s Shooting &Post workshop we went up to this amazing spot at the top of a mountain here in Golden, CO, and found this awesome overlook where we could see the sky. We had this amazing rock formation that was really cool, but unfortunately, the lighting was pretty dark since this area was shaded by a tree, and when we exposed for our models face, the sky ended up being blown out. The below shot shows you what the natural light was doing…   Once we made it back to this same location for our lighting workshop, it was late in the day. We knew that the ambient light was really dark in this area (because of some trees around), but also knew that it had awesome potential if we could add some light to it! The background sky was beautiful and we really wanted to capture that in the image. So, we set up a background light (just a 580EX Speedlight on a stand with a Pocket Wizard triggering it – power at full power) to give some lighting to those same rocks our model was standing on the day before, and put an orange CTO gel on it for some added color and... Read More

Reception Lighting, Part I

It’s Tuesday!! Time to share some more goodness! Some of the biggest challenges in shooting a wedding is the dreaded RECEPTION! With low lit reception halls, or outdoor receptions with no walls or ceilings to bounce light off of, lighting can most definitely be not for the faint at heart… Today, we are going to tackle one part of reception lighting – how we shoot the details and get fantastic shots consistently and with some style. Pull up a chair, sit back and relax and watch us tackle Part I of Tuesday Tips & Tricks | Reception Lighting. Gear we referenced: 42″ 6-in-1 Reflector Kit Pocket Wizard Transceiver Westcott Lightweight Stand Westcott Adjustable Shoe Mount Canon 580EX Speedlights Micro Apollo 8″ **Make sure to come back next week for Part II, and don’t forget that once a month we are releasing exclusive Tuesday Tips & Tricks via our newsletter! Make sure you are subscribed to our photographer... Read More
Nashville, TN Photography Workshops

Big Light vs Little Light

Today’s photography tips and tricks blog is all about the difference between big, powerful light sources and small, low powered light sources. Many photographers might wonder how (and if) you can use a small light source and still get that painted-on look with light, so we are going to talk about the reality of that, and how to get the look you want, and use the gear that works for you. You can get that painted-on light look by using great, natural light like in the shot above, but today we are going to talk about off-camera light sources and break down the “quality” of their light. All of the principles we will discuss directly relate to natural light as well, so keep that in mind! So, what is the big difference between a large light source (like a big soft box) and a small light source (like a speedlight 580 or SB 800)? The difference in the “quality” of the light source is night and day! And by quality, we mean soft, even light that looks like it was photo-chopped before you actually photo-chopped it. Let’s look at the real difference between large and small light sources. Large light sources: Soft and pretty looking, softer shadows, light that appears to be painted-on, very flattering to any skin type, easier to work with and more room for error Small light sources: Harsh looking light, added contrast, not flattering to skin (especially in-perfect skin), slim margin for error when using it It is very important, I believe, to be able to handle both small and large light sources because you... Read More