Photographers have always had a love—hate relationship with light. We love light when it behaves and does exactly as it is told. We hate light when it is unpredictable, too strong/weak, or doesn’t show up at all. As a photographer I love natural sunlight, the early morning and late afternoon lights are my favorites. The natural light adds a special quality to my photographs. Unfortunately, I can’t always take pictures outside; sometimes I have to come indoors.
When you start taking pictures inside you’re faced with three options:
Let’s consider the options and the pros and cons of each. Available light does not require any special equipment but it usually limits your depth of field and your ISO selection. On-camera flash is quick and easy, but generally creates a mug shot effect. Fixed off-camera light can limit your movements but it usually offers the most versatility and generally gives you the best results.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and start looking at off-camera lights you’re faced with a multitude of choices. You can go big and purchase a commercial strobe system which can run upwards of $3,500.00 dollars. If you don’t have that much money to spend, you can get a single light setup for as little as $80.00 dollars. With an off-camera light you also must choose the color temperature of the lighting and consider how it will affect your white balance. After you’ve purchased a lighting system, you can add accessories such as umbrellas, softboxes and light tents/sheds.
Regardless how much you spend, all off-camera lighting does the same thing: provides you control over what the camera captures. Let’s look briefly at what can be done with a single light setup.
Review originally published on January 15th, 2012