Taking lighting equipment on location can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Packing your bag with minimal light-weight equipment can take you from an amateur to a pro with just a little bit of knowhow. Lets start basic and work our way up and compare the differences in use of light sources.
Starting with a basic reflector.
On the left, natural light is nice, but to the right we add a silver reflector and the eyes pop, and the fill light on the face is really pretty. This is the new 20"x40" Rogue 2-in-1 Super Soft Silver Reflector by ExpoImaging that has a great rectangular shape creating a fantastic catchlight in the lower part of the eyes.
Next we tried the gold reflector. Here you can see you need to be a little careful not over doing it, because it kind of creates that flashlight-under-the-chin effect, and is not always flattering.
Notice in both the above samples, the background hotter parts of the image, where there is brighter lit areas, it's over exposed. Without a stronger light sources, it's rather hard to expose for the background and light the front of the subject to match. For example if I expose for the background light, it looks like this darker image below left, with the subject in shadow. But if I add a stronger light source, we can get a more even playing field.
Adding a stronger light source makes it so we can better light our subject and match some of the brighter background light. During my Introduction to Location Lighting Workshop for the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) we worked through these different option. The above example is a Canon TTL flash with the Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro that is like a mini soft-box for your flash, triggered by a radio slave.
Next we upped our game with the Interfit Photographic Strobie Pro Flash 360ws, with a foldable beauty dish. Now we are talking! check out the different in the quality of light below. With each step the photo looks even better.
Lets look at the set-up.
We used an Interfit Strobie Speedlight Bracket - This backet can hold any Bowens® S-mount modifier and you can use any flash unit with it. It's only $39.99.
Now lets take it one more step and add a second Strobie for a hair-light behind our subject. Notice the separation from the background and how pro the images looks.
Lastly, what happens when we don't have this nice shaded are to work with. How can we create our own cover and do some similar lighting on location in direct sunlight. I got you "cover"! Enter the Scrim.
Lets run through this. Same as with direct shade above, we just made our own shade with a scrim (which is a panel with some diffusion cloth. You could use a diffused shower curtain for this.)
The first photo above is natural light with the scrim. Below we work through different options to fill in light and offset the background "brighter/hotter" light. Note, our main light source is the sun, which is "diffused" by the scrim.
Next Scrim with reflector.
Next Scrim with Strobie Set-up
I'll leave you with this. The more powerful the light source and the larger you can make the light source (like with a larger soft-box) the better the quality of light. All examples are good, it's really a matter of preference and what you can take with you on location.
Special thanks to Patty Lemke for the BTS photos and our model Sheena Graves. And be sure to check out discounts from Interfit Photographic and Rogue below:
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All the Best! Jennifer