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

I like to use cross-lighting when I have two flashes. I'll shoot one speedlight through a softbox at a slight angle to the front of my subject and use a second speedlight on the opposite side aimed at my subject's shoulder and hair. I put on a Rogue grid to keep the light focused where I want it. Controlling the flashes wirelessly using my PocketWizard FlexTT5, I make the accent light one stop brighter than my main light.

Another classic technique is to light your main subject with one light and your background with your second light. For a moody portrait, try positioning one speedlight in an Ezybox almost directly over your model. This will cast strong shadows downward on your subject's face. Next, use a Rogue 25-degree grid on your second speedlight. Place this behind your subject, aimed at the background. This light will create separation from your subject. Try adding colored gels for different looks.

Three Lights And Beyond. With three lights you have as much as you need for many portrait styles. One light can be a main light on your subject, a second light can be an accent light, and your third flash can light your background. Add in a few reflectors, grids and gels, and you're set.

What if you have more lights? The only limit here is your creativity! One technique I use a lot for sports portraits looks like this. First, my main (or key) light is a Lastolite Ezybox positioned high and slightly in front of my subject using a boom arm. Next, I use two speedlights, one directly to the left and one directly to the right of my subject. These are shot through Lastolite 12x48-inch Hotrod strip banks. These narrow softboxes produce long accent lights on my subject's sides. My fourth light is a speedlight shot through a Rogue 25-degree grid aimed at the background.

To control the lights with my PocketWizard FlexTT5, I set my main light to group "A," strip banks to group "B" and background light to group "C." By previewing the images in my LCD, I can adjust output of each to get the right look. The trick with this shot is having your main light add just a little fill to soften the shadows created by the strip banks. Experiment adjusting the main light and strip banks for different looks.

The next time you're pulling into your driveway, stop short of your garage. Do you really want to park your car inside? Instead, start sweeping out the garage and storing all those forgotten projects somewhere else. It's time to open your own "garage studio." Once your studio is set up, the only thing holding you back is you. Find a model and start shooting!

To see more of Tom Bol's photography, visit his website at www.tombolphoto.com.

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