Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Garage Studio

I remember walking into Bathhouse Studios in New York for the first time.
Text & Photography By Tom Bol Published in Shooting
The Garage Studio
The other lighting option to consider is studio strobes. Since you'll be near AC power, simple monolights should work well. I have a pair of Elinchrom BXRi 500 monolights I use in my garage studio. Studio lights are generally more expensive than a couple of speedlights, but offer more power and faster recycling times. Studio lights are also easier to use with large softboxes. But, if you're on a budget, start with a couple of speedlights. Mastering speedlight technique in your studio also will be useful when you take them on the road.


Now that you have two or three speedlights, what else do you need? Light stands and clamps are next on your shopping list. I use inexpensive Manfrotto 366B light stands to hold my speedlights. I also use my tripod and a Manfrotto 175F Justin Clamp to hold a third speedlight. Using these stands and the clamp allows you to position three speedlights with the bare minimum of accessories. Use the Justin Clamp to hold a flash on your tripod.

I like to use an overhead light for many of my images, and this requires a few more stands. First, I need a stronger light stand to hold an overhead boom arm. I use the Manfrotto 368B 11-foot stand as the vertical stand and a 042B mini-boom to attach the light over my subject. Having an overhead light allows me to shoot from any angle in front of my subject without equipment in my way.

ExpoImaging's Rogue Honeycomb Grid helps narrow the flash spread.


The next items you'll want are some lighting accessories to alter the direction, quality and color of your lights. You can start by shooting with bare-bulb speedlights, but very quickly you'll want to soften or reflect the flash to change the quality of light on your subject.

Two items I can't live without are the Lastolite Ezybox II Switch and the Rogue Honeycomb Grid. The Ezybox is a clever softbox for speedlights that creates soft, wraparound light. This box can be configured to be a strip box or traditional square softbox. One or two speedlights can be used with the box, giving you more power and faster recycle times. The Ezybox also has a grid panel that can help alter the spread of light.

Rogue makes a variety of speedlight flash accessories, including snoots, grids, flags and gels. One thing I like about the Rogue accessories is their integral Velcro® band—no more searching for Velcro® bands in my camera bag. The Rogue Honeycomb Grid focuses my speedlight where I need it, and their small reflectors do a great job of flagging (blocking light) to prevent lights spilling into the scene. Rogue also makes a speedlight gel set for changing the color of your flash.

Another inexpensive, but handy garage studio item is a reflector. Numerous companies make great reflectors. A simple white reflector will fill in shadows and add catchlights in a portrait. I also like to use the soft gold color to add some warmth to my images.

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