Without question, studio lighting offers the photographer the greatest amount of control over portrait lighting. Whether using continuous hot lights or studio strobes — and combined with modifiers, such as umbrellas, softboxes, octabanks, strip banks, barn doors, snoots, beauty dishes, flags, scrims, grids, cookie cutters, and reflectors — studio lighting enables you to produce an unlimited range of lighting effects.
You have to assess the amount of work you intend to do and also how much lighting gear you physically can manage to transport. In this regard, it may be a good idea to start with small Speedlite flashes and work up from there. Monolights have the convenience of being self-contained and delivering way more power (light) than you may need, and they have all but replaced pack- and head-type lighting systems for location work. I use all three types of systems depending on the assignment — and let me tell you, traveling light is great.
Several years ago, photojournalist David Hobby started blogging about using small flashes to do studio-quality location work — thus giving birth to the Strobist Nation. His blog (www.strobist. blogspot.com) attracts thousands of hits every day from like-minded shooters who love to control their light. Be forewarned: It may keep you up past your bedtime checking out all the cool entries, but you'll never look at light the same way again. Guaranteed.
Whatever lighting system I happen to be using in the studio, the 5D Mark II has been a top performer in all types of portrait sessions. For this reason, I want to protect its circuitry, so I use remote triggers. For any flash system larger than a Speedlite, I use remote triggers from PocketWizard and sync at 1/160 sec. or slower.
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