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Selecting Lighting Gear

Lesson 12 from: Nikon Wireless Flash for Creative Photography

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

12. Selecting Lighting Gear

Lesson Info

Selecting Lighting Gear

Now this is a fun part of the day because I get to talk about gear everybody loves talking about camera gear especially flash flash equipment in this lighting equipment so today in the studio we have a lot of pro photo gear pro photos not insider sponsoring today but I love their gear so I just asked that we could use it some of this is my own some of this is creative lives but it all works inside of the nikon wireless system so let's go through and talk about the benefits of like umbrellas and reflectors and soft boxes and why you might choose one or the other. So the first thing in the in the show presentation let's talk about how do we actually mount the flash to the equipment? All right, so I'm going to start with this little guy here. This is ah this is a pro photo umbrella it's one of the smaller ones I generally recommend is you're going to hear today I recommend big bigger is always better when it comes to lighting equipment so this is a fairly small umbrella think big when you...

buy stuff get like a forty two inch or a fifty inch something like that umbrella this guy what this has amounted to just called an umbrella bracket all right? And so this is designed to fit on the top of your light stand here thie umbrella bracket goes there you tighten that in and now this allows me to just the umbrella up and down on the top here we have this little stud little brass dead and that's going to screw onto a plate for my flash so let me grab one of my flashes and these are the flash feet here so these little plastic feet nikon they come for free with your six hundred dollars flash so you get this little plastic piece for free is great so on the bottom is a quarter by twenty thread so you can take the quarter by twenty stud their screw that in great and then that just slides here to the top of the umbrella bracket like that then the flash is going to mount here into the foot and the most important thing you're going to do today is toe locket I cannot tell you how many times I've rotated the flash backwards and the flashes plops out onto the floor like six hundred dollars ouch don't do that so lock it lock it lock it already the next thing is we're going to put the umbrella uh into this little holder there just open up the umbrella like that and we screwed and we lock it ok so now we can adjust the location or the angle of the umbrella just like that that's pretty cool we'll talk later when we get into the actual studio work of actually how to physically position it I like to think of the shaft of the umbrella I like to generally point that shaft towards the person's nose or towards their head you don't always have to do that sometimes we want to feather the light you know it off to the side sometimes we wanted direct so that's mounting the flash to an umbrella set up the next thing was show is how to mount the flash to a soft box or an octo box okay we'll pull this one over so this here is another pro photo it's a pro photo soft box and this is you can see it's aa one one point three foot by two foot softbook so it's a fairly small soft box I'll talk more about size in just a couple minutes on this we have the r f I mounting system this is a early model prototype so if you go to try to find this one on the pro photo website you won't actually see this one they got newer and better ones there now but this I bought from them quite a number of years ago when I was testing some equipment so this is interesting because the way it works is it it has what's called a speed ring so this is a speed ring this little this black ring here and you can see the soft box stan shin's whatever they amount here into the speed a ring and then the speed a ring then mounts to the plate and the cold to shoot this is called a cold shoe so you're your flash amounts right into their now here toe locket you actually screw turn it this way a little bit screw this in just like a typical coal chute and that that compresses it there's no lock here on the camera that doesn't have our on the flash it doesn't have any impact so now I know not everyone in the audience is going to use pro photo because pro photo honestly is a little bit expensive but if you buy any any other type of brands and there's lots of other brands and they all worked really really well just make sure that it has what's called a speed light mounting kit so whatever soft box you buy make sure says speed light mount included you know our speed light speed ring or something along those lines ok you just got to be able to actually physically mouth speed light to the soft box now the next thing is these flashes worked just fine in any size of soft box or umbrella for example this one over here just pan over a little bit the giant umbrella here from pro photo this be light will work just fine you know was I gonna pop off the test shot here with my modeling light it fills it up just fine okay so this earlier in the day there's this great question from the audience from the internet audience and they said what when would you ever mess with your zoom well here I'm going to actually push my zoom button when I'm in remote mode I'm gonna hit my zoom button and try to fill up the inside of the umbrella because sometimes the zoom is a little bit too telephoto and it only uses a small percentage of the surface area so I really want to fill up the umbrella with as much light as I can and that's where I would zoom kind of wide angle in one of these big umbrellas ok so let's continue here on the gear discussion so let's say that you don't have a lot of money let's say you're into this and you've got maybe let's say you've got like a kn sb seven hundred or maybe even an s p five hundred that little tiny guy you like you know what I want to create fairly professional light but I don't want to spend a lot of money so my recommendation for you is to use a handheld reflector I love reflectors I use them all the time I use them for all sorts of purposes this one this is a pro photo reflector I was just talking about saving money so I probably should have not recommended the pro photo one because his top in the cool thing about these reflectors those they have these nice handles and they also hold up well when they're held out an arm length right there not it doesn't sag some of the less expensive reflectors that you'll find you can find you know small ones on the internet for twelve dollars fifteen dollars they're just not very tough and durable this is never going to fail it's always gonna work it works in the wind stop these nice to hand grip but you can get a nice reflector I recommend like a forty two inch or a forty eight inch reflector on dh use that with your flash like this so the lowest cost option is to hire a friend or feedem pizza and have them be your human powered light stand ok and you're going to say hey mike hold this in such a way that that little sensor sees the commander unit okay so rotate the body cool point like that and now we can take a shot now the lights not coming from the flash rather the lights bouncing off the reflector I've taken lots of professional level photographs with just one reflector in one flash handheld just like that so least expensive option for you there uh literally fifteen to twenty bucks if you can find the right reflector mohr if you use awesome gear like pro photo next with reflectors I mentioned earlier that bigger is better so here is one of my favorite reflectors this is ah it's about I'm six foot tall so this is almost six foot tall these air great on this is a translucent reflector you can see my hand kind of coming through there this is this will work as a bounce or as a diffusion so in other words I can send light from the back I can send it through here or it can also bounce off the front I used these all the time typically I'll use these for full body shots so any time shooting a lady in a dress or a guy you know senior portrait or whatever I like using these big reflectors because you get from head to toe and in this situation you're probably going to need two flashes or three flashes right because one flashing ain't going to cut it you're going probably need one up here when there and and one there so this is where a whole group would be shining off that reflector this this product is made by a company called lasto light and lasted light makes really good stuff I used oh and the other reason I use this is outdoors on a sunny day I'm gonna pull this of above my head um you can also diffuse the sunlight in shade the subject and get a nice look for that as well so very flexible and very useful and these costs anywhere from forty dollars to one hundred dollars depending on the quality and the size that you purchase next let's spend a little more money medium cost options I think the best value for the dollar that you spend with lighting equipment comes with umbrellas umbrellas actually work very well they defused the light the reason why we don't use all this stuff is because we want the light to be bigger and softer I'm going to show both of these umbrellas again here so I'm gonna walk over this way we've got a small umbrella in a big umbrella we got a white umbrella versus a silver umbrella so white is generally softer and kinder you know if you got a subject that has wrinkled face and you wanted to be a little bit softer and kind of go with the white it's a little bit more diffused the silver is a little bit harsher a little bit more for like a fashion look kind of ah hard speculator speculum means from a sank single direction so we use this for any time we want to a little bit more high fashion wilmore sparkle in the eye but bigger is always better so I even though I have these have these pro photo umbrellas these little guys I actually don't use them very much because I like bigger umbrella so I have some other umbrellas that air like forty eight inch fifty inch even sixty inch umbrellas you'll be happier with the bigger stuff wouldn't what's what I like about umbrellas why like because I like him because the light is diffuse and the light goes everywhere I mentioned earlier during our last break I consider these to be like light grenades like like goes everywhere so if you've got your umbrella and your umbrellas out here it's going to land on your subject but also lights going to spill all over the background so use umbrellas anytime you don't really care about controlling the direction of light how much do girls cost well if you go on the internet and go to your favorite shopping website you can get umbrellas for like ten dollars all the way up to hundreds of dollars I would recommend buying maybe like a kit like a lighting kit from your favorite online retailer lifetimes you could get to light stands and two umbrellas and to him umbrella brackets for like one hundred bucks you know they're inexpensive the last year a couple of years before they start breaking but it's an inexpensive way to get into a nice looking studio kit so you'd have two umbrellas don't forget when you get the umbrella you need this guy you need the umbrella bracket last the last one like to show off is the soft box I love soft boxes and I love big soft boxes even more the reason why we like soft boxes well there's a bunch of reasons but maybe the top two or three reasons the first one the light is very controllable so I get a big surface area like especially with something like this I got this nice big surface area but I can control it aiken make it directional where's an umbrella just kind of sends a light all over the place you know a soft box really allows me to be able to say no I just want it here I don't want to spill over on that side and I don't want to spill over on that side I can feather the life maybe you've heard of that term before so feathering is when uh maybe I don't want the light fully on the subject rather I want the light to kind of skim the subject so I'm feathering it just off this the front I can feather it off the back to get a lot more control another thing about soft boxes that we like the catch lights the catch lights and the subjects I are clean when you get further into your photography career you start thinking through things like catch lights and how they impact the overall look of the photograph you see an umbrella gives you catch light with all of these spider veins and you know the the the veins of the of the umbrella can show up in the ice to get this kind of radiating look where is the soft boxes clean on so I really like the look of a soft box catch light in the eye octo boxes over there walk over to that one lock the box is air cool they also give a really great catch light this is a nice big octo box by pro photo this is creative life so I borrowed it from them for today I have a little bit smaller soft bucks from pro photo and I use them all the time again if you're trying to decide between this octo box versus this soft box it just really comes down to preference what do you like about the catch lights and what do you like about kind of more of a circular look to your tear box versus a rectangular look now this one here this is the return it to the side this is a pro photo three foot by four foot soft box and to use proper english it ate cheap okay her talking hundreds of dollars but man like you know I taught a class yesterday on panorama is and people were talking about tripods like why would you spend thousands of dollars on a tripod and my answer is because it's the best and it always works every time and the same thing goes for this year the reason why we spend so much money is this stuff is durable you khun work with it day in day out it's going to hold up and the quality of light is excellent and you're in you're out is just gonna work work work so there's a big one it's a three foot by four foot my recommendation to you if you're going to buy soft boxes to buy maybe like a two foot by three foot your first soft box maybe a two foot by three foot and that's that's fairly big don't I just generally don't recommend the smaller ones uh you know what we're trying to do with these lights right is we're trying to illuminate the subject so think about this the subject's torso is what three feet and with your soft box you oftentimes need to illuminate from here to here so what if your soft box that is only about two feet or smaller some people buy these little soft boxes like this well that's really only good for maybe this part of the face not the whole body or the torso so the bigger subject the bigger the soft box all right so there are a few options and then of course tying it back to the nikon system all of the nikon flashes were just fine in these in these products I have um I have pro photo studio lights have the d one system and they work in my pro photo gear but also my little speed lights working my pro photo here to um and so I can take my really high in lighting equipment with my little speed lights and I can travel the world with it you know I'm a family a family man as well I love traveling the world with my kids and my wife so the last time we were in hawaii for a family vacation I actually took a couple of little nikon speed lights and I took a soft box in an umbrella and we went on the beach we did family portrait ce in hawaii it was great and now we have these really great looking family photographs that that you know I just put a little more effort into lighting and they look professional and they're on our walls at home so that's why we do this right that's why we learned the details of these in these classes is so that we can create lasting memories that are emotional so just like to tie it all back together from gear toe heart yeah

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

5 Step Plan & Flash Recommendations

Ratings and Reviews

James Stone

This class is an excellent primer on Nikon's Creative Lighting System. Mike does an excellent job simplifying what can seem like a complicated system. I enjoyed it and saved it to watch again as a refresher.

Fred Morton

So, here's the deal. If you can't get to a Mike Hagan course in person this is the best next thing. I have know Mike for 6 years and he never disappoints. I took this course through Nikonians about four years ago and found this to be not only a great review but a significant update from what I l learned in the previous class. Mike is one who never rests on his laurels and as a teacher he is constantly updating and improving his work. Speed lights are so much more complex then most people understand and Mike use his knowledge to take that complexity and reduce it to a set of clear and understandable methods. So glad to see that Creative Live has included him in their line up of instructors.

Marlon Ornek

Mike is a great easy to follow instructor who you can tell knows his subject. Thank you. A great course that I would recommend to anyone with Nikon gear.

Student Work