Big Lights, Big Zoom, Bigger Wish List

I had the opportunity to use actual studio lights last weekend at the Cats Corner staff photo-shoot and had this weird sensation that I was somehow cheating on my trusty old SB900s.

Some of the pros of using studio lights for the first time included:

  • Way faster recycling time between flashes. There were only about two or three times where the left key or right fill light didn’t fire. Compare that to my SB900s which overheat every thirty shots or so.
  • Larger spread of light with the increased power and big soft box.
  • Professional looking equipment makes your talent a lot more amiable for posing certain ways.

Of course there were some cons, which included a lot longer time to set-up and take down. This might not seem such a big deal because I had all afternoon to shoot but I can imagine this being a pain if I was pressed for time.

On one occasion I actually knocked over one of the light stands (with the attached light). I blame the short power-cord (small wireless flashes have no cords to trip or pull over) and not at all on my lack of coordination. :-/

I rented a 70-300mm tele-zoom, which makes my camera look less like an apparatus to take pictures with and more looking like a sniper gun. I wanted REALLY BADLY to not like this lens. It’s way too expensive to even think about getting one for myself and impractical for day-to-day shooting. Buttttt alas, I was super impressed with the sharpness and clarity of the glass even when wide-open and the included vibration reduction feature, while being a little bit worrisome while using it (it makes a weird lo-hum whirling sound), made my shaky hands less of a liability over the course of the shoot.

As for the actual pictures themselves, I experimented with going with a more punchy and high-contrast look and set up the lights to have a bit of harder impact (ed. does that even make sense???). I felt pretty content with the results but on closer inspection there were some poses/angles where the lighting produced some weird angled shadows on the dancer’s bodies. Nuts. I’m thinking that I probably needed reflectors or a soft box from the bottom angled upwards. Will investigate.

To check out some of the photos from the shoot, head on over to: http://hamfats.ca/catscorner2012

Anyhoo… later days,

– Randy