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Home Studio Starter Kit

Lesson 7 of 9

How to Shoot in Tight Spaces: One Studio Strobe

Tony Corbell

Home Studio Starter Kit

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

7. How to Shoot in Tight Spaces: One Studio Strobe

Lesson Info

How to Shoot in Tight Spaces: One Studio Strobe

Let's do this, john, I think let's move the speed, lights out and let's bring in one of those lights to start with one of the delights we'll bring those in and let's bring in that small one first, uh, with the small soft box. Uh, I don't want to kill a lot of time and have dead time with you guys. So if somebody's got a question, that was a really good time because we're going to change the set a little bit. So you want to ask any questions or bring something up that you would like to talk about? Please do absolutely. If you could talk about wall color as you're doing this, that would be fantastic. Okay? A lot of people are asking about that. And then also what? Sure as sure can be an issue for sure. Yeah. Also asking about some of the characteristics of what kind of tripod would be most helpful with in a small, confined space. Are there things that you should be looking for within the tripod like yours has the ball head? For example, I'm pretty pretty serious about using a ball head. ...

Uh, I've got a pretty expensive ball head here, and it was a great christmas present to myself one year. Uh my tripod is an enduring this is unendurable it's a carbon fibre and it's only got three sections because I travel with it I'll put it in my suitcase sometimes when I don't have a I don't have a camera bag with me are trying to save on what I'm checking because we all know we have to pay for checked bags on some of the airline's now uh so so I will travel with a carbon fiber I think his smartest way to go so I'm not too concerned about the type of head other than it's just a personal taste thing more so than anything else in photography the type of ball head you use is so unique to you and everybody's everybody is very serious about how they like their ball heads or their pan tilt or their pistol grip on the side or the pistol grip vertical we all have our own thing about that probably the one thing that I can't do is walk into somebody studio and pick up their camera on the tripod and use it because it's just like yeah I know how it works it doesn't it doesn't feel very comfortable whereas with this kind of thing I'm just real comfortable but again the let's talk about the focal england lenses thing too you guys if you even if you can only have one lens just give yourself a lens with enough travel to do a larger group and get a little bit longer than normal you have to be able to do that I've got this is a twenty eight one oh five for a small space in a studio for me this is the ideal linds I don't I don't need to go wider I'll never want to shoot anything in this studio wider than twenty eight in fact, I probably won't ever get wider than fifty or forty ever in a small studio because I just don't like that look I'd rather go take him out the garage and start all over and set up a studio out there if I'm gonna do that so but this works pretty well and we're not we're not very big big space and I'm you know I'm kind of backing up a little bit so um let me just set this guy over here I'm through with him for a minute and oh yes I forgot to put in my pocket uh yes john's great to have around here he reminds me a lot of these little things that I keep forgetting to do you walked in this morning giving yourself card oh yeah cf card okay so I'm gonna switch to the studio lights and this one said if this is the this is the delight the income delight rx this is on ly a one hundred watt second light it's a really low power what light it's not very bright at all uh, but it's brighter than you would imagine. And I'll show you what we're gonna get here in the second. We're gonna take a couple of couple of readings with it. Um, yeah. So so basically on the back that controls that you have are fairly simple. Uh, the up and down arrows course that power's power up and down, uh, at full power. It it goes up to four point. Oh, at lowest power goes down the two point three now what's weird about that. Is that the four point oh, is full power it's a full one hundred? What seconds? Uh, if this was a one thousand head, it would be ten point. Oh, it full power. So the idea there was, from the engineering standpoint, any lights that you have in any combination, if that likes at four point oh, and that lights at four point on that life's a four point know they're all having the same equal output no matter how bright the lights are pretty smart. So and I think more and more lighting manufacturers to go into that type of thought process this kind of clever, actually, uh, and then we've got the modern lamp off and on button we've got the test button right there, we've got a little recycled beep right there which makes me insane I'll turn it off and then we've got a slave that we could turn off and on for a white light cell and there's a cell in the back of the unit right here so it'll see other lights when they fire okay, so let me power this down to that uh let's put out a little bit further come down about there let's try that jon you ready? You gotta meet her standing by see what it's doing its auto dumping yourself right now watch this and then we'll beep well, little blink stop lincoln come on, you can do it there you go now it automatically brought down the power and dumped out the stored energy inside the capacitor so now it's ready to go? Okay, so what we getting right there again? Okay, here we go in two point oh, which doesn't know that's right? Let me bring this in. Just pop it here real close and see if it's my meter bring it right about me there the other meter. Okay, right there at s o well, I'll change my cell back was it four hundred just to give me the extra death earlier? I'm just gonna bring that back down tow I'll bring the ice so down the two hundred in my studio almost all of my studio work I do on to two hundred so just because it's it's become in some in some cameras it is the lowest natural eso so it's just a real good habit that I've kind of got into in the last three four years probably but used to it would always go the loss I s so nowadays I'm not sure that that's as important as it used to be used to be a noise issue and I think that noise issues kind of gone away so okay, here we go just five that test eight eight and a half okay, so then I'm gonna go uh I'm gonna take that down just a fraction three tenths tio two tents and we'll try that again so now I know that now I'm gonna go to f nine and I'm gonna be fine at f nine which is f eight and one third from faa when you close down the next exposure is nine the next one after that is f ten the next one is at eleven on the digital aperture scale right? So I just said this after nine and I'll shoot it off nine and we'll see how close this is two hundred this time two hundred okay. Yeah, you know what you did? Yep good one way to go, john who don't have to tell that guy nothing? Okay, so nine nine nine it's a beatles thing nine number nine number nine sorry I'm a beetle guy you know it's just just me I'm a beatle guy I used to hire assistance and say ok the last question of the interview beatles or elvis and their answer was really important I never did ask beatles rolling stones because that's not quite fair but okay let's take a look here that's pretty so now we're in the little studio we've got one little soft box beautiful it's your head just roll over a little bit uh pretty pretty pretty pretty holy toledo nice like quality watch this ready set go wait there we go how's exposure great meter said so like quality is there any color temperature shift? No daylight the meter said so get the idea it's all doing what it's supposed to do guys there's no guest work here and I'm not seeing any surprises I don't have time for surprises we can't we can't deal with surprises with a client on the set in my advance workshops that I do in texas once a year on the first day of the workshop I make everybody take a piece of black gaffer tape and we cover up the lcd window in the back of the camera and for the next five days they can't look shut up seriously and guess what if you if you slow down enough to really double check your meter double check your aperture double check your color balanced double check your I s o double check everything and then take a picture you're dead on you don't have to look now you might want to look to make sure that everything's firing the way it's supposed to and then you don't have a flash tube on a set somewhere that's gone out that you wouldn't recognize initially that's? Fine, if you want to use your previews for double check and everything but let's not use our preview for our base in our exposure on makes sense, okay? Yes, ma'am, I just want to jump in because we're here filming in our creative life studio and it's hard for everyone at home to necessarily it is continue to see this face that we're in, and we've got some people who are wondering if you are now moving out of this space. Let's talk about that. We're in. We're staying within this sort of sixteen, faint or so at the nine, five or so and eight and a half feet high scooted back a little bit for that I should scoot back in. I just wanted to reassure people on the idea here is that everybody has a different sized space. You were told that we're applying here really worked for whatever the spaces, and the idea is for you to go home and test it out yourself, right? And in a second we're gonna put her against the wall I want a couple of things to look for this thanks for remind me I just I keep sneaking out further and further and I forgot that I was doing that but yes so the edge of the of this right here is about well that's eight nine, ten maybe about eleven feet from the back wall so I should move back in there a little bit more so I'll do that okay, so I'm gonna pivot this just a little bit away from her and two things will happen one is the background will go a little bit darker but also I'm gonna kick up pick up a little bit of a kick from that other wall that's going to fill in the shadow just a little bit with me oh you look good girl you look good you got one you got one crazy here and I gotta fix it now say this one crazy hair right here for the for the camera folks that can pick that up from back in that position that one crazy hair will take you twenty minutes to fix it in photo shop why don't you just walk over and going back there? I want to fix it anything you can fix fix it I don't call it retouching later I call it pre touching now let's just pre touch instead of retouch how's that can you tell? I'm feeling better today can you tell I got way too much sleep okay, here we go here we go. Good, good, good awesome, awesome. Awesome. Now my backgrounds falling into a mid gray instead of the white wall because I feathered it away from the wall now without changing my distance or without changing my exposure I'm gonna feather it back and let's look at it again stay right where you are and I'm just gonna pivot this that way let's do it again same picture, same picture, same picture nobody moves bam! Here we go now watch the difference in density and if we could get steel to put those up side by side in light room you'll see that nothing changed on her but the background totally changed. I'm just trying to show you've got some controls if you'll think about it and put get your mind right what do you say if you just think about it and think it through uh if you just put that last one up there you go like that? Yeah, everything stays the same except on the other one it's just a little bit less on the background but nothing changed the distance of the light didn't change color balance looked like a change just a little bit, but it's just this is light bouncing around, okay I hear the auto fan just kicked on on that light because that modern lamp is inside their enclosed in the soft box and those those air auto fans so when it needs cooling it just turns on when it doesn't heat cooling it'll turn itself off come on, auto cooling thing okay, I like that okay, let's rearrange this just a little bit let's just move you all the way back against that back wall yeah, and put one foot against the wall and just relax and lean up against your hands and just I just need you coming. Yeah there's a hook oh hell on their wives want too comfortable for a minute it's okay, jonah was gonna move this keep the same distance probably uh, yeah, I'm just going to the light and kind of like that and watch what happens if I go up and put the light kind up against my ceiling kind of like that shadow size of source relative to distance affect the highlight in size of highlight brightness of highlight an edge of shadow, right? So with a pretty decent sized box this is not a huge source but it's not tiny I'm gonna have a shadow at that distance that's pretty defined but I don't think it's going to be objectionable, right? So let's take a look at and see if we like the shadow we might not like and if we don't, then we got to do some work. Good. Good. Let me just try that right there. Good. I think I'm crooked. You get my I got my brooks a little my breaks a little crooked and they don't always have to be straight bricks but let's try and see if I like that better. I just relax for just a second. Kinsey I kind of like the shadow at that distance. I kind of like that box on the wall. Let's do this for him again. Just for fun. Let's, turn your shoulder's quite a bit away. Like you're leaning on that one shoulder more more, more even. Yeah, yeah, even if even a little bit more. Yeah. Now then, just bring your head around this way. Yeah, I just do that. Prot, turn you head that way and down, down, down yeah, let your right arm does come back behind you. This right? Yeah, yeah. There you go. Yeah, yeah ten down a little bit right there. Good. I have no problem with that shadow from that soft box. Now we're gonna bring in another box and a little bit we're going to increase the size and soften it even further and we'll bring in a second as an accent but I just wanted to see some of the controls that you could have if we if we split like her, think about that if we have, we have split lighting on her face, and we really like one side of the face and maybe filled their side a bit, that bag wrangles darker and darker and darker and darker. Okay, I know it's a small area, and we're I mean, I am absolutely within ten feet by ten feet right here. This is a pretty small bedroom in somebody's house, and depending on what your background is, whether it's you might be against a window with many blinds that you've covered with a shower curtain and that's fine, it works, it works great just have plenty to pick from on hand that you khun you know, that you can use as we talked about in the first segment, any any problems with any of this is if I see anything that's like that doesn't make sense, grab a microphone and and yet stand up because we got gotta find you. I know we're shocked that I have something to say. I have a question, I don't want to jump ahead, so this is something that you're going to do in a minute, then that's great, but you love the lower ratios. Can you talk a little bit about how to because there's light everywhere in this room because the white walls and the white brick and everything can you talk a little bit about how to get a more dramatic lighting ratio yeah can and so the answer is first off it's it's smaller light sources will obviously help but so will change in the environment so in other words uh instead of this white wall this white painted wall let's put a large four by eight black panel up there and that subtracts although if in fact all this white is too white for you then start blocking it off with with some kind of some tractors of light um we don't have a lot of mon hand I can't do that in the instant teo illustrated but the point I hope you understand that the point is well taken that it's that it's not very hard to do that uh keep four by eight v fun we call them v flats when you've got four by eight sheets and you've got to have taped together on one side there white, white facing white on the backside I haven't looked at these yeah, they're black facing black so if we reverse those and spun it all around then I've got I just sucked all the light out of the room and then I'm only going to get light where I place the light as opposed to the bright fun this of all this light but it's a great point that you bring up people have the choice it's a subjective decision and you get to make one of the that's what the hardest thing that I've learned in teaching is some people want me to tell them exactly what to do, and I can't I can't tell you what you like, I can only tell you what I like, but I can tell you four ways to do it, and of those four ways, you have to figure out which one of the ways works best for you and each of those scenarios. So that's the hardest part when you, when you take on the role of educating someone everybody wants, especially new people just tell me it's like when I start talking about physics of light, I see people in the back room and I see him go, you know, inside they're saying shut up and just tell me where to put the damn light, you know, I know that's what they're thinking can that's the responsible thing to do that so I don't do a recipe book with a lot of diagrams, so okay, so yes, ma'am, can I ask the question? Absolutely is the number one question that people asked we're talking about the flats where can you get them? Well, these were nothing more than four foot by eight foot pieces of foam core wide on one side blacks on the other side they're available at most of the camera stores most of the hardware stores most of the most of the home. What would you call the craft stores? No, the art supply stores art supply stores always have four by eight foam core what's great is you buy it because it's not very it's not very expensive and then you cut it in various sizes too so you buy a lot of it thirty four dollars a sheet so it's four foot by eight feet by thirty four dollars so not too shabby not too shabby sometimes you can get by with a six foot piece and it's even easier to find and home improvement stores of the the craft stores and more likely or if there's a sign maker in town sign makers often have foam core on hand right before by eights are a little tougher to find sometimes and maybe a four by six but a four by six fits better. I know when I got my eight footers first thing I did was cut nine inches off of them fit if it inside the house yeah, so when we call him avi flat uh cannon just to follow on the question it's a v flat because usually I don't have them flat like creating a wall being held by two c stands and clams. Generally, they hold up by themselves. They just stand up free standing, and you just make a v out of them. So they're white on the inside, black on the outside of turn the other way. Now they're black on the inside white, on the outside of the photo we did last night of you is you were the background, was a vey foot was it was just a v flight. Yeah, and you left me with one light and a reflector.

Class Description

A well-equipped home studio can be a great place to work, but you need the right gear on hand to get pro-level results. Learn how to outfit your space in Home Studio Starter Kit with Tony Corbell.

Tony will teach you the concepts, tools, and techniques necessary to take beautiful photos in your home. 

You will learn how to:

  • Identify and utilize household items to affordably stock your home studio
  • Draw success from confined spaces and common household limitations 
  • Use basic modifiers like reflectors and soft-boxes to shape light

Tony will offer insights on tackling even the most challenging home studio scenarios; like lack of natural light, low ceilings, and small skinny rooms. You’ll learn how to set up your home photography studio, even if you don’t have a lot of money or experience.

Home Studio Starter Kit with Tony Corbell is chock-full of invaluable advice for anyone who wants to set up a photography studio in their home.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Essential Home Studio Gear Guide.pdf

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Heiko Kanzler

This was my very first course at all, and it was a great one from the beginning. I never thought I could gain so much fun from my limited small space at home. Thanks, Tony! (And thanks to folks of Creative Live)


I've been lucky enough to see Tony present in person and enjoy his CL courses. Love his courses!

Gregg Hasenjaeger

I like Tony's courses. He is very informative, speaks clearly and shares his thoughts openly. I like his style and interaction with people which does make a difference in this profession.