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Location Gear: Lighting

Lesson 18 from: Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

18. Location Gear: Lighting

Lesson Info

Location Gear: Lighting

Remember we talked about Speedlites and how it's difficult to find things to make them sit on a light stand without breaking the bottom of them off? These are for Manfrotto, and these are absolutely fantastic. These are, again, in the gear guide for the course. This is, sort of, the most elegant solution I have found out there in the universe to get a Speedlite to affix to a light stand. Why don't we demonstrate? So let's take a light stand, and I'm going to do this nice and slow so they can get a good shot of it. I was shooting with a friend one time at a wedding, and she had one of these and I said "Where did you get that?" She said "I saw it at the camera store. Just came out. "They just started carrying them." Now there is a little hitch. You will need to purchase whatever these things are called and these are just a couple of bucks, but they have the different size threads in the top and bottom that's an adapter for you to be able to put them into the top of a light stand. By defa...

ult, your Manfrottos, these particular ones, will have that large thread. Some light stands have a small thread, like so. But the difference is that these guys right here, they have, they're not completely cylindrical, they have a little chunk taken out of the edge, it's flat on one side. And to use these adapters, to use these Manfrotto adapters, you need to have this guy right here, where it's flat on one side, or else these will not close properly on them. See how it's flat on one side? So you want to make sure that you have these, these are only a couple of bucks extra, and they're little plastic bags in the camera store, you can get them anywhere. So, going to screw those right on top, and now instead of any kind of clunky, twirly thing, you literally just put them on top, and it works. I actually, there's a word for these little metal things that I don't know what it's called. Somebody out there in the internet can type that down in the chat room. I just leave them in, and I just screw these on, if that makes sense. Now, that, in and of itself, is pretty cool. There's not a whole lot of stuff sticking out, all of it's really elegantly designed, it'll tilt for ya. It's got some spring action in it, which is kinda neat. It also has a hole for an umbrella, so it's got a built-in umbrella mount, which is really neat. Now, here's the thing that's the coolest, let me go grab a Speedlite. It slides into place, probably need to make sure to get a good shot of this. It slides into place, and then you twist this up, and it actually closes around the hot shoe, so that it's not in any danger of falling off. Watch it fall this time. No problems, piece of cake, I use this all the time. So it's super, super secure. If you look at the action on this thing, it actually has these metal guides that you slide the hot shoe into, and then as you twist this up, not only does this come up around and enclose the bottom of it, but it squeezes the metal on the inside. So this is going to be the most secure hot shoe mount for a Speedlite, or a cold shoe, rather, and it's going to be the most secure you'll have. Since I started using these, I haven't had a Speedlite take a dive off of a light stand. (imitated explosion) That's what happens right now. Right when you're teaching at showing how great this is, then your gear just explodes on you. So, most of the soft boxes and modifiers will come with, or have an attachment that is proprietary to them, but I use Speedlites without a modifier quite a lot. If I'm in an office situation, and I need to, which we will do in the shooting portions coming up, I will bounce light off the walls, I will use lights to light the background, I will create edge lights, I will do all kinds of things, and just using these on a stand. So you can pick these up, I don't know, 20 or 30 bucks, these guys right here. And 20 or 30 bucks to save myself hundreds and hundreds of dollars in Speedlite repair bills is pretty worth it. And I keep a couple of those in my camera case for when I use them all the time, that's pretty cool. So let's talk about when you're using your Speedlites as edge lights, as backgrounds, when you're using them without a soft box, this is one thing I keep, it's in my bag all the time, it's in my pocket, and there are many versions of this. This is the one that I use, it's called the Rogue Flashbender. Okay, anyone familiar with these guys? You could pretty much do the same thing if you buy a sturdy piece of construction paper and some tape, you can pretty much accomplish a lot of the same goals, but I use this quite a lot when I have a Speedlite as a light on the background. So I will use this, if I have a subject, and this is lighting the background behind them, that would be the camera position, this would be me, that will be the light, that will be the background, okay? What happens is, you get a lot of blow back sometimes. The flash in that light isn't necessarily super controlled. So, to keep that light from spilling onto the back of my subject, I will often times just wrap this guy around the edge here, and these are cheap too, I think these are 30, 40 bucks or something like that. They're not expensive, but construction paper is also cheaper than that. Do you guys know Neil van Niekerk, You ever seen his work? He uses this thing, he calls it the black foamy thingy, and it's literally just a piece of crafting foam that he tapes around it. Does pretty much the same, but it's also white on the inside so it can bounce and that will keep the light off of your subject. You can narrow it like this and make an edge light out of it without it spilling on the background. You can bend it, because it's called the Flashbender, pretty much any way you want. A lot of times, I will use it as a snoot, if you want to put a spot on the background, just so. Without light spilling all over the place. It's very inexpensive, very portable, and it's really, really useful, and I use it all the time as a Speedlite modifier. You guys with me on that, everybody cool? Is this useful to everybody? Okay, (laughs) I got a buddy of mine, who's the Martha Stewart / Carrot Top of photography and his name's Kevin Floyd, if you want to check him out, and he comes up with the most ingenious ways of taking things, that what they're not supposed to be used for and applying them to photography. I hope you're watching, Kevin, yes I mentioned you. Now one of the other things I like to do, which we are going to demonstrate, if you want to stylize portraits, there's some really cool ways to do that. What we're going to do when we're shooting is you look around and you see that the color of everything in this area is white. Or black, or gray, whatever colors are around. And I like to change the colors of things sometimes. If you're in a pretty boring office building and all the walls are taupe, which is the corporate world's favorite color, for some reason. You can change the game, you can add a lot of drama and a lot of interest, visually, to your images with really inexpensive gels for your Speedlite. Use these all the time, this is also from Rogue, not sponsored by Rogue, their stuff's just inexpensive and very available, and you will get a thousand different gel colors in this pack. I think this is about 30 dollars, maybe? And any of these different colors, I actually shot a bridal party one time, and you ever seen the thing where they all wear a different superhero T-shirt underneath their tux or whatever? And I had just shoot in a hotel room and all I had was a white wall, grayish wall behind them, and so I lit them with window light, and I hit the back wall behind them with a color that was representative of each superhero. So green lantern was green and superman was blue and so on, and just switching out the gels in my flash, we were able to do some really cool stuff. So, if you have a company that has a really boring looking place that they've assigned you to shoot images, you can add some really cool drama, which we'll look at later today, just by using some inexpensive gels on a flash. And it comes with this Livestrong bracelety rubber thing to wrap them around the front of the flash, but I lost that, like the second day. So I use just a hair tie (laughs). Luckily my wife always has hair ties on hand. Alright, cool, any questions about that location stuff? Because we're going to move on to the studio stuff so far, so if you have any questions on any of that gear, we'll hit that up, okay, nothing, cool. Alright, piece of cake, let's go, studio stuff.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ten Tips for Professional Portraits
SEO Workbook
Posing Guide
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.

Student Work