Home How-To Shooting The Garage Studio
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Garage Studio

Gear and techniques to transform any small space into a studio

This Article Features Photo Zoom
If you only have one speedlight and want to create stunning headshots, consider getting a Lastolite TriLite reflector. This reflector is actually a panel of three reflectors that's positioned close to your model. The TriLite reflects overhead light back onto your subject's face, creating a striking portrait with bright catchlights in the eyes. [Editor's Note: For more great light modifiers, see our extended coverage in this issue.]

THE TECHNIQUES
Okay, your garage studio is complete. If you're frugal, you can create your studio for minimal time and money. No studio rental fees, just a background, a few speedlights and some basic lighting accessories. Invest a little more, and you open up more creative possibilities with your garage studio. Now, it's time to shoot!

One Light. One simple speedlight can do a lot. At its simplest, put the flash slightly left or right of your subject, and shoot away. This will produce hard-edged light with strong shadows on your subject. Not the first choice for a beauty shot, but this light can work well for edgy subjects and gritty backgrounds.

To control the brightness of your background, move your subject closer or further away from it. If you're using white seamless, then shooting with your subject a foot away should give you a white background. Move your subject six feet away from the background, and the flash illumination decreases, creating a gray background.

Try shooting through a translucent reflector or an Ezybox to change the quality of the light. Now the light will be softer, filling in skin imperfections and creating a luminous glow to your subject. The softness of a light is directly proportional to how big it is to the subject and how close it is. Move your softbox as close as you can for the softest light.

Try positioning your light at different angles. I like putting my light directly overhead and in front of my subject for beauty shots. With your light positioned overhead, add a silver or TriLite reflector directly under your model. This "clamshell" lighting will fill in shadows and add interesting catchlights in your subject's eyes.

For a completely different look, try putting your flash behind the model aimed at the camera. Place a white or silver reflector in front of the model to bounce flash back onto the subject. The result is a portrait with flared light behind the subject and moody low light on his or her face.

Two Lights. Adding a second speedlight to your setup creates many new possibilities. With a second light you can control the background light separately, create a bright accent light or add fill light. The key here is that you control this light independently; you can make it brighter or darker than the main light.

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