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05-24-2021, 07:13 AM   #1
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Recommendation for minimal/portable location portrait lighting setup

I'm not sure how to phrase my question.
I am looking for ideas in building a lighting setup that is as light and minimal as possible for outdoor and location portrait photography.
I am looking at a few remote flashes setup, I wondered what I should be looking at and get away with this kind of setup.
Flash, light reflector etc.

05-24-2021, 07:46 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I reckon you would be best with a couple of light stands, which are cheap and lightweight these days. A softbox with removable egg-box grid, and a white umbrella (which you can use as reflector or shoot-through)

Two flash units and three radio triggers and you are all set.

Just don't pick a windy day to do your shoots however. The lightweight stands have their advantages, but resisting the wind with the equivalent of a sail affixed, is not one of them
05-24-2021, 08:22 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote

Just don't pick a windy day to do your shoots however. The lightweight stands have their advantages, but resisting the wind with the equivalent of a sail affixed, is not one of them
That's why a (re)fillable weight-bag is required for the kit. Gear bag, water bottles, rocks, and a means to contain/secure them to the stand. Velcro cord ties, parachute bags, tent pegs, ..., many of which can readily serve multiple uses. Ultra portable is a 20" square of ripstop with grommets in the corners with a carabiner and velcro cord tie.
05-24-2021, 01:13 PM   #4
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It will be interesting to read what folk say to this. Fighting wind and bright sun with limited gear (and without an assistant) is always going to be challenging ( = near on impossible). To control the sun's light a diffuser works well, but on your own? Tricky. In a breeze. Tricky again. When the weather's benign, it's going to be easier (= possible). I decided outdoor portraiture was not for me because of these problems. So I started indoor shooting as I wouldn't have to contend with fickle weather. Then Covid hit and the door stayed close, metaphorically and literally.

The weather's a problem in other forms of shooting too. I had a commission to shoot a garden last year. One trip turned into four, trying to fit my times around their gardener, my time and the weather. I even thought about flashes and reflectors, but gave up for similar reasons to above - just hard to manage when the weather's challenging.

So it will be interesting to see what is suggested ...


Last edited by BarryE; 05-24-2021 at 01:21 PM.
05-24-2021, 02:04 PM - 1 Like   #5
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For supplemental/fill lighting:
  • Flash with adjustable output
  • Umbrella (40" shoot through) with stand (72" minimum) and umbrella swivel/bracket
  • Reflector (40" two-sided shiny and white)
  • Willing assistant (to handle reflector)
  • Radio remote trigger(s)
Of course, much depends on your intent and the ambient light. A tripod for camera, second assistant, and/or sand bags may be needed if there is breeze.

Added:
What the above usually means from my kit is: Yongnuo YN560III speedlight (wireless capable), Phottix F-180 stand, Lumipro LP-35 umbrella, Impact R1142 reflector/diffuser, and Yongnuo YN-560-TX II N controller (or Yongnuo RF-603II-N1). If buying today (24 May 2021), the flash would be Godox TT600 and the controller Godox X2T-P (from Adorama $29.99 deep discount) as alternative to the Yongnuo options.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-24-2021 at 04:18 PM.
05-24-2021, 10:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
I reckon you would be best with a couple of light stands, which are cheap and lightweight these days. A softbox with removable egg-box grid, and a white umbrella (which you can use as reflector or shoot-through)

Two flash units and three radio triggers and you are all set.

Just don't pick a windy day to do your shoots however. The lightweight stands have their advantages, but resisting the wind with the equivalent of a sail affixed, is not one of them
I originally think that umbrella didn't look natural outdoor, but I can see it works on a darker street/urban setting.
Maybe I can get away with just a softbox?
I see most of the people uses flash only, how do you think about these portable LED continuous lighting?

---------- Post added 25-05-21 at 01:58 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
For supplemental/fill lighting:
  • Flash with adjustable output
  • Umbrella (40" shoot through) with stand (72" minimum) and umbrella swivel/bracket
  • Reflector (40" two-sided shiny and white)
  • Willing assistant (to handle reflector)
  • Radio remote trigger(s)
Of course, much depends on your intent and the ambient light. A tripod for camera, second assistant, and/or sand bags may be needed if there is breeze.

Added:
What the above usually means from my kit is: Yongnuo YN560III speedlight (wireless capable), Phottix F-180 stand, Lumipro LP-35 umbrella, Impact R1142 reflector/diffuser, and Yongnuo YN-560-TX II N controller (or Yongnuo RF-603II-N1). If buying today (24 May 2021), the flash would be Godox TT600 and the controller Godox X2T-P (from Adorama $29.99 deep discount) as alternative to the Yongnuo options.


Steve
Thanks
05-24-2021, 11:31 PM - 5 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Angelic Layer Quote
I originally think that umbrella didn't look natural outdoor, but I can see it works on a darker street/urban setting.
This is just an umbrella.

In a two flash setup, you would use it as fill for the softbox, since it's very wide with light, you can't concentrate it.

[IMG][/IMG]

05-25-2021, 12:50 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
This is just an umbrella.

In a two flash setup, you would use it as fill for the softbox, since it's very wide with light, you can't concentrate it.

[/IMG]
Thanks, I can see how it may works now.

I might dabble a bit with color gel lighting as well as quite a bit of interesting effect can be achieved with different situations outside.
05-25-2021, 03:21 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
For supplemental/fill lighting:
  • Flash with adjustable output
  • Umbrella (40" shoot through) with stand (72" minimum) and umbrella swivel/bracket
  • Reflector (40" two-sided shiny and white)
  • Willing assistant (to handle reflector)
  • Radio remote trigger(s)
Of course, much depends on your intent and the ambient light. A tripod for camera, second assistant, and/or sand bags may be needed if there is breeze.

Added:
What the above usually means from my kit is: Yongnuo YN560III speedlight (wireless capable), Phottix F-180 stand, Lumipro LP-35 umbrella, Impact R1142 reflector/diffuser, and Yongnuo YN-560-TX II N controller (or Yongnuo RF-603II-N1). If buying today (24 May 2021), the flash would be Godox TT600 and the controller Godox X2T-P (from Adorama $29.99 deep discount) as alternative to the Yongnuo options.


Steve
Anyway, do you think a softbox is less necessary than an umbrella practically?
05-25-2021, 07:09 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Angelic Layer Quote
Anyway, do you think a softbox is less necessary than an umbrella practically?
I assume you've come across Joe McNally? If not hunt him down. He's many tutorials available that cover portraits with flashguns, including many covering outside situations. He's been in the business decades and knows his stuff. He's published full length training videos that are available for free - they maybe a little dated, but the theory hasn't changed.
05-25-2021, 09:32 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Angelic Layer Quote
Anyway, do you think a softbox is less necessary than an umbrella practically?
They are different tools. Adorama has a decent article on the differences and usage...

https://www.adorama.com/alc/softbox-vs-umbrella-which-one-should-you-use/?

I suggested umbrella because the collapsible types are quite compact and they are basic kit. Used together with a softbox and you have a very versatile kit. However, with softboxes, one size does not do all and compactness may be a concern. You will also require a separate bracket to hold your flash in the softbox opening and don't forget the second light stand.


Steve
05-25-2021, 11:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
I assume you've come across Joe McNally? If not hunt him down. He's many tutorials available that cover portraits with flashguns, including many covering outside situations. He's been in the business decades and knows his stuff. He's published full length training videos that are available for free - they maybe a little dated, but the theory hasn't changed.
I heard of his name and seen his pictures, but didn't watch his tutorials nor I can say I am familiar.
Awesome compositions, I will look at his videos on the subject.
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
They are different tools. Adorama has a decent article on the differences and usage...

https://www.adorama.com/alc/softbox-vs-umbrella-which-one-should-you-use/?

I suggested umbrella because the collapsible types are quite compact and they are basic kit. Used together with a softbox and you have a very versatile kit. However, with softboxes, one size does not do all and compactness may be a concern. You will also require a separate bracket to hold your flash in the softbox opening and don't forget the second light stand.


Steve
I am under the impression that softbox is more useful because it is directional, and outdoor natural lighting is pretty broad already (especially in tropical country where I live).
But I will get both and try it at different outing to see what setup I can get away with carrying minimally.

What size I should be looking for in terms of softbox?
The most compact I've seen are for LED panels, but I didn't see people use them as much as flash for location portrait.
05-25-2021, 12:33 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Angelic Layer Quote
What size I should be looking for in terms of softbox?
Think of a softbox as being light cast from a window. The smaller boxes work for smaller subjects.


Steve
05-25-2021, 01:44 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Think of a softbox as being light cast from a window. The smaller boxes work for smaller subjects.


Steve

... and think how far from said window. ie a small s/box very close to a subject gives equal softness of light as a large s/box some way from the subject. (The sun is a point source, even though it's a little on the large size.)

Also remember the inverse square law and how light intensity falls off. Then add in the way each modifier, eg umbrella versus softbox versus beauty dish etc., actually distributes the light and there's not much else you really need to know.
05-25-2021, 05:13 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Angelic Layer Quote
Thanks, I can see how it may works now.

I might dabble a bit with color gel lighting as well as quite a bit of interesting effect can be achieved with different situations outside.
Just so you know colour gels work badly outside because as you increase the flash power they desaturate.

In a studio, you can keep all the light levels low and use a dark grey background rather than white for best effect. Here's one of mine:

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