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Intro to Location Lighting Gear

Lesson 44 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Intro to Location Lighting Gear

Lesson 44 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

44. Intro to Location Lighting Gear


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

Intro to Location Lighting Gear

hey everybody I'm lindsay adler and I'd like to take a minute to talk a little bit about location lighting so when I was first looking to augment my ambient light meaning I want to take some light out on location I was immensely overwhelmed there's so many different options there were model blocks and packs and heads and speed lights and it was very confusing and overwhelming so I'd like to take a minute to break it down make it simple so you can make educated decisions on what you want to bring for lighting on location the thing to know is that there's no one right solution for everybody in fact depending on what you photographed and what your needs are you might need drastically different solutions so for example maybe you need really true accurate color for photographing products or clothing well that might be one lading solution or maybe you're photographing action and movement where you might need some mother lighting solutions and so I'm going to tell you the important terminolog...

y the important things to be aware of that help you make educated choices when choosing your location lighting one of the most important elements to consider right up front is the fact that you're going on location so you have to take this lighting with you wherever you're going to go and so you might need to look at the portability of this peace including its size and its weight because sometimes a bigger heavier pack for instance might be great because it has a ton of power output and maybe you're lighting somebody that's across the side of a ravine on the other side of a mountain and you need that but maybe you're a one man show and you're at a wedding and you need location lighting that you can set up quickly that small and then it doesn't weigh much so that's one thing that you want to take a look at right away when you're considering your location lighting options how much does it weigh and how large is it going to be in your kit the next consideration for choosing location lighting is your power output and you have to take a look at how much power output you really need for example if you're going to be photographing in a small studio you don't need an extremely high wattage of light but maybe you're photographing a huge group of people at a wedding or an event maybe you need a little bit more power output in order to be able to reach and light that huge group of people so let's talk about what you're looking at when you're considering power output of your location lighting solutions the first term you might see is wattage or watt seconds and basically that's a measurement of the power output the higher that number is the more power output you're having from that particular lighting set up so if you are that person that's photographing a large group of people or you need your lights to illuminate a very large room that might be when you're considering higher wattage the next thing that you want to look at is the stop range so when you have a light you have the ability to vary its output you can increase the output or decrease it now the reason this might be important is let's say that you're working in a space and you want to be able to shoot really wide afra cher's well if you can't turn your light down low enough then you're not going to be able to do that the light will be too strong so it might be a consideration to look for an option that has more stop range from that like something else to watch out for is when you're looking at different lighting solutions read into it actually take a look at what the true power output is ah lot of lights are misleading for example they might just have a number in the name that means nothing it doesn't actually relate to the watt output so what you want to look for is you want to take a look at the true actual watt seconds output for that light and one final thing to consider is that if you're choosing speed lights there's something called a guide number and a guide number is another measurement another way to see the power output off a strobe or in this case of a speed like so for the speed lights the higher the guide number the more power output that you have the next thing that you may want to consider when choosing a location lighting option is recycled time and for some people this is going to be much more important than and brothers recycle time is the amount of time that it takes for the flash to reach full power after it's been fired now recycle time is going to be much faster when you're using less output now when you would want higher recycle time would be if maybe you're like me and you're photographing dance and movement and I want to be shooting a whole bunch of frames at once so if I have a really slow recycle time I'm going to miss the frames that I want the in between movement however if you're photographing just basic portrait's still life then the high recycle time isn't going to be important to you but if you're photographing in a studio you're photographing basic portrait so you're photographing product having a really fast recycle time is not going to be as important to you you may have experienced this yourself if you shot with strobe whether it's in the studio or on location but when you have your light up to full power you're going to experience much slower recycle times so it's going to take much longer for that flash to re power so if you're going out on location and you know that you need to be able to overpower the sun you're going to have that flash turned all the way up in power you might need to take a look at recycle times because you want that flash to be able to get back up to full power quickly so you can continue shooting another problem that you might run into is that when you're working with a lower and solution a less expensive solution when you're looked working with really fast recycle times sometimes this is at the expense of accurate color meaning these really fast recycle times might actually change the color temperature from image to image so these are a few considerations that you might be watching for when looking at recycle time another important consideration when you're choosing a location lighting solution is how many full power flashes can you get from a single battery because of course this is going to be problematic if you've gone out on location maybe you've hiked to a distant mountain to do a shoot and you only have one hundred full power shots and then you have to carry extra battery so just take a look at how many full power flashes you have from a single battery now the lower power that you use the more flashes you will have in most of the time in many situations you are actually shooting at full power so when you see this number be aware that this is referring to turning the flash up as high as it goes in power how many full power flashes you can have before the battery is depleted the next major consideration of course is price and this is something that affects a lot of us yes I can get all of the bells and whistles and the absolute best with some systems but I will definitely be paying for it so what is the perfect balance between fitting your needs as a photographer and the type of images that you create and then also saving money kind of protecting your wallet so some of the things you need to look at are going to be the following first of all is this going to be a pack and head system and I'm going to talk about that a little bit more but how much is the pack going to cost you and if it's a pack and heads than how much are the heads the actual strobes themselves going to cost the next thing that you want to look at is going to be extra batteries austin when we're going out on location you're going to want to bring an extra battery as a back up or in case you need more power in case you need more flashes well take a look at how much those extra batteries were going to cost you because this conveyor drastically between different location lighting setups the next thing that you want to consider our triggers often when you're on location you're going to be using a trigger to fire your strobes or to fire the packs this can actually add significant costs a different lighting solutions so what you want to do is you want to take a look at if a trigger is required and if it is how much is that trigger going to cost you and then finally with any of your location lighting solutions you're going to want to add modifiers to your lights so maybe it's soft boxes maybe it's beauty dishes whatever the solution maybe these prices of these modifiers will range drastically between different brands so that is something to consider if you know you're going to need to invest in a lot of different modifiers well how much did this modifiers actually cost take it look at your needs as a photographer and take a look down this list of all the different considerations for price and that's going to help give you an idea of what you really require when you are going ahead and researching your location lighting solutions one of the things that you might come across are all these different terms like like flash duration or different names for triggers and so want to cover a couple things you might come across that you can understand what they mean so first of all let's talk about flash duration flash duration is actually the length of time that your flash is firing well a lot of location lighting solutions especially the lower and once I have a very long flash duration meaning the flash is actually firing for a long period of time I used to think that sounded good like a good thing but it's actually detrimental if you're photographing action or movement because during that long flash duration if your subject has moved to actually get motion blur so the very high end packs will have very very fast flash duration and so that's going to allow you to freeze motion freeze water particles mid air so is that something that you do a lot maybe it's going to be action or particles or sports or something like that then flash duration is going to be something you'll definitely want to consider another consideration would be the trigger that that system uses let's say that you do have your light boomed out over the edge of the side of a building to shoot well if there's no trigger where you can change the power of that light each time you want to change it you're going to have to lower the light or go up there and make modifications so if you're doing this if you're doing lighting where you'd need to be able to change the power a lot or maybe the light would be difficult to get to the trigger is going to be something you really want to take a look at some triggers all that they do is fight fire your flash whereas other systems actual give you the ability to change the power output and the ratios and other shin of the light so look a little bit more in depth to see if that triggers that remote is going to meet your needs another thing that you might see is something about color consistency or color accuracy some strobes when they're firing the faster that you have your recycle time and the more that you're shooting you'll actually get variations in the color temperature I actually had this when I was first shooting had some lower end lighting solutions and I couldn't understand why the skin tone would be different from photograph to photograph since I was using the same white balance and I was using the same settings well this is because of how the strobe is actually working so as you invest in higher and solutions or as you're looking for solutions look for that color accuracy that color consistent see if that's important to you especially if you're photographing products or especially if you're photographing something where you required true color this would be something you would need to consider very important for commercial photography let's talk about taking studio strobes out on location there are a couple different solutions for doing so so first of all there's something called a model block a pack and head system and a battery pack so what are these words mean and what do they mean to you so a model block is a self contained unit meeting that model block that light itself has the battery you can change all the settings on it it's it shoots and fires by itself it doesn't need anything else in order to function a pack and head system on the other hand you would take that light and plug it into the pack the light won't work on its own and often with these packs systems you're changing most of the power output in most of the settings of the light right on the pack itself the last option you have is a battery system and often for these battery systems the light whether it is a model block or whether it's ahead plugs into that battery pack and it simply drains power you're not controlling any different settings but instead it's simply a source of energy let's talk about the pros and cons of the death system so you can figure out which one is going to work the best for you but first of all let's take a look at a model block the self contained system one of the things that I like about model blocks is it's one piece I don't have to carry a separate heavy pack and said everything is in that single head another benefit also is that it's compact also it tends to be less expensive than the pack and head system so if you're looking to save a little bit of money that might be a good solution of course as with everything there are some downfalls of this system there are some cons so one of the things that is not beneficial or that's usually not a good with the model block system is usually has slower recycle times so freecycle times are important to you usually a model block system isn't always the best option the next thing that's not great about a model block is that all of the weight is distributed in the head so for example if you're having this light boomed out over a scene will all the weight is going to be up at the end of this poll that you have however if instead you have a packet head system then your head can actually be much lighter and it makes a little bit easier so it might be a bit of a downfall for depending on the type of setups that you want to do and then lastly generally color accuracy is not as good in a model block system it doesn't mean it's bad and of course it'll depend on the particular set up that you purchase the next thoughts and you have is the pack and head system and this tends to be what a lot of that the high end shoes lean towards here's a couple of reasons why first of all when you're using a pack and head system all the weight or most of the weight is going to be in that pack so you have a very lightweight head so it's easier to boom out over a scene it's easier to manipulate also generally with packs you have faster recycle times often faster flash durations and in general more true or accurate color so this for a lot of commercial or high end shoots is usually the way that they would go now there of course are some down sides the packing head system is less compact it's a little bit more difficult for travel and of course because the higher end ones give you more capability they tend to be a little bit more expensive the last option is having a battery pack which is simply a source of energy and the biggest benefit of using this is you can use the studio late ing you already have some systems will let you take any studio strobe you have that usually plug into the wall and instead you can just plug it into the pack which is great other systems are proprietary they belong specifically do that head but let's say that you have a model block in your studio simply by that battery pack plug it into the battery pack and now you have a location lighting solution so that is a benefit that many people choose because it helps them save money they don't need to invest in a totally different location lighting solution but instead simply a piece to take their studio out on location one of the downsides of using a battery solution tends to be that you do have slower recycle times in fact recycle times often suffer severely by using this battery system another downside of course is wait because let's say you're using a model block plugged into a battery you have the weight in the model walk and now you have the weight of the battery so it's not as compact and finally the battery pack is simply a source of energy that's all it is so you can't make any changes or adjust settings to exposure etcetera from the pack or the battery instead it'll all be from the head whether it's a model block system or another solution you've chosen now the next big piece of confusion that I didn't understand was well when would I want a strobe versus a speed light when would I make that choice and so let's talk about the comparison between the two now strove is what you typically think of as studio lighting and there are a lot of benefits and the biggest benefit really is the power output generally studio strobes give you a lot more power out play another thing that I like as well as I can use my same modifiers that I'm using in the studio and apply them to the strobes so I can have that same quality of light that I'm used to attaining in the studio but instead on location studio strobes often give me the ability to have a modeling light so I can see what the light is doing on the face before I actually take the image another benefit of a studio strobe is generally they have faster recycle times and something that I love is they have a really big range of power output so gives me a lot more flexibility with the amount of light I'm adding to the scene when I'm taking my studio strobes out on location as a location lighting solution couple of the downsides are that a studio strobe is going to be bulkier it is going to be heavier so it's kind of a downside if I'm trying to go out and be portable on location one other problem that I encountered as a photographer is that studio strobes are generally all manual they're not usually t t l r e t t l there is actually a there are a couple instances where that's not true but for the vast majority of studio strobes you won't have that option so if that's something that you're comfortable with or something you prefer to use tl on location you're not going to be able to get that with studio strobes and also with studio strobes you are limited by sync speed so with each camera there's a maximum shutter speed that you can shoot at and still have your camera and studio strove work together when you're using another solution like a speed light there's actually workarounds for this which will talk about the other option you have are your speed lights so these air you're off camera flash solutions and there's a lot of benefits to using them especially on location and a huge one is that they're small and very very portable and nowadays there are a lot more modifiers created you know in the past it was a little bit harder to modify the light and to get the quality you want not really the case anymore another benefit of using speed lights for going out on location is that you can use the different features like tt l through the lens meeting so you're actually able to have your camera and your flash talk to each other to help you determine an exposure instead of working all manual now this is particularly beneficial if your photograph moving subjects who are a lot of action where the distance of your subject is constantly varying having a t t l solution for photographing events like this will definitely be beneficial another reason that speed lights might be a great option is if you're shooting a lot in the middle of the day and you want to darken down the ambient you wanna overpower it well problem with speeds lates is that they don't have a lot of power output however most of the modern speed lights have something called high speed sync that actually allows you to shoot faster than your camera sink speed which is going to allow you to dark in the ambient and then use that in conjunction with your strove to make it look like you can overpower the sun in the middle of the day allow you to shoot with flash but also wide open perhaps that you know to pointing apertures that is something that is extremely difficult to achieve with studio strokes of course there are some down sides using speed lights one of those downsides and one of the huge reasons that you might choose a different solution is they don't have that much power output they aren't that strong so if you're lighting a subject far in the distance or maybe a large group of people usually speed light isn't going to be enough also speed lights are much smaller light source so when you're working with different modifiers we're trying to light a scene it's not broad enough to give you the quality of light that you perhaps might be used to achieving with studio strobes another downside of using speed lights especially for events when you're shooting a lot is that it depletes batteries very very quickly so it might actually get in the way of the flow of your shooting and finally a downside might actually be price now depending on which system you go with price could be a problem either way but for certain speed lights you require both speed light and the trigger and maybe you need a battery pack and for the same price you might be able to get a lot more output and a better solution with strobes but then on the strobe side of course if you have a pack and head solution it might start being expensive as well so that's why you need to figure out what you actually need from your location lighting take a look at your requirements and then take a look at the different solutions that'll fit the type of photography shoot

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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