Nathan Elson, a commercial photographer from Calgary, Canada, just posted a great no-nonsense tutorial outlining his basic lighting set-up. Oh, FYI, there's also a great contest that Elson has put together with Strobepro. Go take a look.
Instead of showing us a flashy 3 minutes of posing and high-paced cutting and calling it a BTS tutorial, Elson has taken the time to spend 20 minutes showing us exactly how he approaches his go-to lighting setup. In the end, we're given a packed 20 minutes of lighting advice.
Before I note a few of my favorite pieces of advice, it's important to point out Elson has partnered with Strobepro to offer a giveway contest!
- Strobepro 47" Rapid Deep Octa Box
- Strobepro 63" Deep Para Umbrella w/ White Diffusion Panel
- Strobepro 40" 2 in 1 Umbrella
A few great points to look for in the tutorial:
Elson discusses his use of manual white balance. I'm curious, how many of you do this instead of using either auto balance, or switching to flash balanced? I find that almost all photographers eventually move away from any kind of auto mode, with the exception being auto white balance. In my experience, photographers often stick to this auto function much longer.
I found Elson's discussion of how a subject's distance from the light source can have an effect on the shape of the light falling on the subject helpful. This is an important point that a lot of photographers overlook. After all, why spend money on a particular shape of modifier just to move it too far away and create a generic looking splash of light?
I had never thought of it in the terms Elson uses, but, it makes sense the way he eschews reflectors and v-flats for flashes (when possible, and, of course, budget permitting) for fill. As Elson points out, it's much easier to change the power setting on a flash than to start thinking about the inverse square law. Dialing in power or stops is certainly more desirable than starting to do a bit of math.
I really do love the idea of feathered rim light. Something I'm going to have to add to my own arsenal.
Last, a few assistant / lighting geek notes that I was really happy to see. First, I liked the quick notes on how a c-stand works. So many people and assistants use them wrong. Second, Elson's brief note about where to place the knuckle on an arm so that it tightens with the weight of the light is important to anyone looking to assist.
Images used with permission of Nathan Elson.