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Studio Lighting Basics

Lesson 7 of 14

Lighting Equipment Q&A

Tony Corbell

Studio Lighting Basics

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

7. Lighting Equipment Q&A

Lesson Info

Lighting Equipment Q&A

Any questions out there on this at all we covered well we do have questions coming in I do wantto clarify no, we talked about getting into some science and all that but just some basic understanding of the terms that we're talking about s so you're talking about light and f stops is referring to some of this gear and floodlights are generally listed in watts right? Can you kind of talk about that relationship between watson f stops is now a good time or you know it's a great time let's let's put it in these terms when it comes to flash output a lot of people in the us refer to and gauge and report out there output in what's called what seconds most countries in europe don't use what seconds they use jules a cz some of my europeans right now are not england that's right? Stop talking about what seconds they talk about jules and the output in jules um this this display in fact let me just let me turn it on for one more second and just show you one last thing this here I can unplug it I d...

on't need a head in there to show this so in terms of output it's flashing because it's telling me hey dude, you don't have a head plugged in so it's kind of a safety thing but in the so it's at four point oh power that's just the relative value of the output means at full power I'm at six point oh sorry sorry sorry let me turn charges you guys throw something at me everyone's way we have these big red tally lights tony if you just look up um so full powers of six point oh, right, so but in the took right corner you see that little small number it says for twenty five j that's four hundred twenty five jewels so it reads out and what the actual output is as you change the power it's only a light I know that's ever done that I've never seen a light doing I don't know why they don't this is smart, smart, smart I don't care about the six point oh, what I care about is what's the what seconds? If I go down let's say I'm just right in here four point oh great it says you're one hundred six basic one hundred six watt seconds one hundred six jules so two stops down I'm only one hundred watt seconds that's the same output is those little guys. So this thing is too full stops brighter than those little guys to full f stops. So instead of shooting at four I conceded five six I could shoot a date or instead of a doctor shooted sixteen eleven to sixteen and is a power that down even further all the way down on channel a he goes over down to twenty two what seconds if I had a light plugged in the channel b and was at the lowest power it says seven you want to shoot a two point eight with flash and have that great fall off this is your guy that's the benefit of this thing because I can go so low and still get flash output or go a size I want you're laughing at my pop so so here's what I take all my students when you go looking for like when you go shopping to get a set of lights go shopping with your light meter forget reading anything don't even look at the brochures turn the light on and measure the output at full power measured at lowest power and see if it's in the range of what you needed to do if it is then you're in pretty good shape what you'll find is that manufacturers very buy brand on how they measure their output and one brand will say weird five hundred watts because then you measured it's not nearly as bright as somebody else is five hundred what seconds so just goto shop with the meter instead of that I have so two hundred or one hundred and set the shutter speed at one twenty five and start taking flash readings okay I just I didn't you know this is just this is just smart it's smart technology and I don't know why it hasn't been done before, you know, the only it's lacking one thing it doesn't have teal has something it doesn't have guess what? I wouldn't use teo outside anyway so I don't I got a meter I know how right this is going to be I'm not shooting documentary style I'm shooting a style that I am creating, so that means I've got the time to take a light meter reading and once I read it one time I mean if I worked with this more than once with a set distance with a set soft box and pirate down minus two I'm getting five, six and a half every time I'm on location with that same box at that same distance that same eye and so it's going to get give me the same output I don't have to measure it every time I get awfully close because I'm paying attention and if you don't know then make a cheat sheet and tape it right there on that side there's a big blank spot, rector says, right it says tape cheat sheet here just make a charge, make you get an excel spreadsheet going and make a little small chart and just tape it right there with your outputs and you don't have to take your meter with you, emanuel apple it's going to be repeated repetitive, repetitive impeding repetitive what you get the idea okay uh in this battery it just you know it just snaps off the base two snaps off and then you just replace that and re charge that and what's fun off also about this is uh the fuse has to plug in here and it comes with backup fuse that plugs in here that just stays in this pouch yes oh it's always gotta backup fuse and it's illegal tow fly with ease because that's that's a whole question when you're packing stuff now sometimes the skycaps or the agents will ask you do you have any batteries that you're shipping if you pull that fuse out its legal ship it it's legal to pack it and it's legal to check it with the battery and you're really kind of not supposed to great so it's an easy fix will fuse out and then you have place to put it because there's a little stories container right there for your fuse I just think it's smart you know so snaps back in there and it's ready to go it's got this super space age fill those little debates in there a little spongy things oh oh oh yes it weighs nothing and it just it's just comfortable so one of things that well when I talked about the kit the little small kit for the the delight one hundreds they come with a little stands done you'll describe him a little pouch I'm sorry didn't have it over here uh, they come with this little pouch of of life stands and we don't have to dig out the stands, but they're ok and they also come with you two umbrellas they've got a regular reflective umbrella and they also have the shoot through translucent umbrella the difference being I know a lot of people are more advanced than have tried all these things but some haven't. So this one is this is a more reflective umbrella so the the umbrella of the head fire this way and it fills the parabola of the umbrella penumbra yeah, okay, the inside. And then it just floods out with light, so the translucent one is the exact opposite. This guy is designed for the light to shoot through. So instead of the head being here facing this way and reflected out, you turn this toward the subject and you're using that as the light source, but it comes with both, um, there in the kit. So, um they have a totally different look. This is a little bit of a softer look that's a little bit harsher er doesn't mean anyone is better or worse than the other, it just means it is what it is uh my my goal here and, you know, I've talked about this before, uh I don't want to tell you guys what to do I'm not gonna tell you how to shoot I'm not going to ever give you a diagram and telling you where I put the lights I get slapped for that my first studio lighting book that came out a long time ago I had all these really nice reviews that I had one guy so this is ridiculous I can't believe I've read this book and I can't believe you wrote this book and not once did you put in a diagram to show me where to put my lights and my and my thought was well if I give you a diagram and show you where to put the lights then your picture's gonna look just like mine that's not what my job is my job is to show you here is what it looks like if you put the lights here here, here, here or here but wherever you put him I don't care some of my business you figure out where you want to put him and so for that reason I don't do a recipe book of lights uh and I mean it if I miss the point that I'm sorry that that I'm not built that way to be able to tell you what to do I don't tell you what to do what you got to figure that out I'll tell you how to tell you how to do it but I'm gonna tell you where to do it doesn't make sense or something um umbrellas are important I will tell you one little tip about ellen chrome the whole opening for ellen chrome umbrellas his five millimeters ah lot of the umbrellas on the market that their cell are sold are seven millimetres so make sure that when you get umbrellas if you've got ellen chrome lights givingem ellen chrome umbrella because then you'll be sure that they fit they don't have they don't have a universal size hole in other words um and we talk to him about making the hole bigger and they're like why why do we want to do that whole fine okay uh but then on that bracket like for example on that on that little adapter that we just showed on the small small heads that guy has a adjustable umbrella holder on the base on that side right there and it'll hold any size shaft so that works fine so when you loosen that you see that little guy right there put number all right through there instead of through the middle of the head you just put it right in there so if you've got like if you've got those seven footers from like westcott seven foot parents which you're great flight sources for nine bucks I can't believe how great they are uh you can just they'll hold it easily just put it right in there so yeah, even that doctor has that same silver polish thing the stands that they that they come in the kit I think are pretty solid and pretty high quality and they have the little flipper handles instead of knobs the longer I do this job maura I'm in photography the more I like convenience and I love this done it's like this's the flipper this is fast and it works and it holds him really well it's got the three eighths of the five eights european sorry three eighths european top already built in so it'll fit any size head uh but they pack up real small and going little bag and this just great three three three stands fit in that little bag with the umbrellas so that works pretty well uh the other other thing that we wanted to talk about a little bit was uh in the world of controlling output and using reflectors um I think that there's there's a lot to be said for getting a quality reflector I would I would recommend buying reflectors in those five and one or six and one packs those kits uh scott makes a great one a lot of people make him uh just get one you've gotta have white, black, silver, gold and translucent you gotta have all those um I'm not a big fan of putting gold on a face but I'm more silver too much but I am a big fan of using golden silver for accents and for hair and her shoulders and for waste and for hips and all that when I'm outside, especially I'll use those colors outside and bounce the ambient light, the direct sun from behind. Uh, I'll use that. How? Use those reflectors in that manner. Uh, and it works pretty well for me. So it's funny, it's. Funny to that. Thank you, it's. Funny too. I usedto my assistance when I used to shoot some weddings. My assistants always made him wear a white shirt. But but by having a white shirt, uh, standing come up here for a second. So so hey, I'm shooting at the reception and pam is my cake. I'm doing a cake shot so I would move my assistant right there. Turn your back to me like that. And I would I would be set up here like the cake, and I would just turn my flash and hit her back with it so that it would reflect off her back. And my light would now have this beautiful direction from one side coming across the cake. Thank you. Here. The idea was I just don't want to flatten out the cake. Somebody went to a lot of trouble for all the little frilly things on it is just like a wedding down when you photograph a bride. You, if you're smart, if you want a great sale from a mom who spent many thousands of dollars for that dress, you might wanna light across it. Not flat into it, because if I flight flat into it, I lose the details in the lace, I lose all the curly cues. I I lose all that stuff. Uh, the little tooling features, I I lose it all if I like flat. So that's, why I like direction is important. Uh, these guys are pretty important. Uh, I use white as a reflector ninety percent of my time on someone's face. Uh, I for years worked in the studio with the main light and the fill light that were separate. And my exposure in those days, based on what I had been taught by my mentors, was that the exposure was based on the phil plus the main light combined together, and my ratio would be based off of the combined exposure. It got so convoluted and so confusing that I got frustrated one year after about my third or fourth year in business, and I am plugged my fill light, and I've never plugged it back in and I am a much, much, much happier guy and I like my work better and I started getting better work and doing better work and getting bigger sales in my career started getting better when I unplugged my fill light sorry those old time guys out there that aren't gonna unplug their fill light but I use a reflector for my film and it works fine now with a group of six it doesn't work I gotta have some help there but these things were really, really helpful and we're going to show you what I think is the proper placement of a reflector uh there is a way to use them efficiently and to where I think that they get the best bang for the buck and but again, like I say the silver I used that for for accenting and coming from behind and doing some different things with it I always thought that these were always thought that these were designed in orlando that the disney photographers designed these because you know ah sorry guys sesay cheesy laugh the crew are all going this guy's a goober okay, so yeah so you gotta get yourself some reflectors size wise they come obviously in different sizes that's a smaller one here's a bigger one and this one has and this one has a soft the soft silver it's fun off also about the combination so there's a lot of different brands and they do a lot of different things they're silver on the back side and then this one is a convertible so it does have the ability to zip off the outer cover and then what's left behind is a one stop one and a half stop translucent diffuser and I think that's a good value if you have one stop or less if you're in direct sun it only knocks off about half of what you needed to knock off I think the stop stopped on a quarter stop and a half is much, much better and which is about what that isthe so I think it's much, much more useful as a tool? Yes, ma'am, tony, you mentioned that there are different brands of reflectors you're talking a lot about what your gear is that you use ellen chrome siri's and you use that because of the results that you get, whether that's the range of power, their color, etcetera there are other brands out there that people can use and get results that they like corrections of brands obviously there's bones after I've been I've been attached to bones for a long time I've used more lights, I got a lot of bones lights uh pro photos of brandon still out there and pro photo is a great brand there's no question about it braun color same thing it was a great brand I do think that those are the three kind of the big three for me is brown color pro photo and ellen chrome voice voice had great great great high respect for those three companies because they have they've consistently had great workmanship they very seldom don't do what they're supposed to do uh but it does come down to aa lot of it comes down to taste you know what do you what do you what do you come from within what do you like uh these I'm off the chart here I'm pretty happy uh and I've used every light in the world I have had manufacturers for your semi lights to test and use and keep those and talk about him you know, uh I'm very happy that finally I got I got the light for me the brand for me it just it just it works really well and I'm thrilled with their their engineering and the fact that they've got such great great flash duration at high speeds and at full power is pretty important for me uh and I and I bring that up only because I have a friend recently with dancing uh series of dancer photographs and these girls were seriously jumping and all of them were a little soft around the edges just a little and it wasn't shutter speed it's flash duration flashed orations gotta behind after freezing jumpers and at big power big output most manufacturers is where their lowest flash aeration is I mean slow it's not the fastest allen crum engineers somehow figured out a way that they're a little different than everybody else at full powers were some of their fastest flashed aeration is so anything that's moving it's if you have a better chance of freezing thing when you start looking equipment when you start going in to make a on equipment decision and a purchase decision uh go in there with a flash meter in your hand go in there with a list of things that you know you want to talk about and go look at uh and I'm not sure how this goes down with everybody else uh I really, really, really like to shop locally uh, I I'm not going to say don't shop on the internet, but I will say, uh, if you shopped locally with your dealer in your hometown here's what you gain what you gain is on the friday night before the day that you've got two weddings the next day and someone breaks in and steals all your gear you might have a friend that can help you out the next day if you bought over the internet nobody's going to save you the next day now I'm saying that from experience, so uh buy locally and you have people that will go on their way to help you in that camera store because you're a known quantity to them and so I mean, I always tell all my local camera stores I'll go and do free demos form all week long I live in dallas and my my friends over at arlington camera uh, I'll call them all time say, hey, I'm around next month these days if you want to come in and do an in store de most, I'm not let me know how much you charge them a dime for that, but when I get in trouble, I can call and say I got a problem and they don't know this yet, but I needed three hundred to eight to take teo yellowstone, I'm going to go begging for it, but because I've pre planned and it's kind of a trade off, I mean it's it's a fair exchange of value, right that's, why I look at it so but use because use good judgment that's all buy what you need and you'll find that most of the tools the value of what you pay for is what you get, you know, but there's a lot of good brands out there all this stuff, there are some stores and especially locally that don't have everything some of the online online stores obviously the big the big winner who they are, they have everything and that's good. If you need a special piece of equipment especial is there a formula tio how much light watts or what you need for the different size soft boxes. So when you're looking at the different sized soft boxes, what? What are the considerations? The answer is there used to be a consideration, which was the output. I know that for a long time, if I was gonna work with if I was gonna work with a soft box that was like a four by six, I could not have a strobe head less than five hundred watt seconds that has been thrown out the window. Now, because of the advent of hirai zoe's, higher quality cameras and great chip design has now meant that all of us can move this studio that we're standing in. I'm not sure what the these camera ops are shooting at with their apertures, but there is less light in the studio that I've ever seen. Now it's all led lighting, it's, great light and it's all directed on this carpet, but it's at a level that's much, much less bright than it used to be because it doesn't have to anymore because they can bump their ias owes to, we can do the same thing, and it means that that little one hundred kit that makes that one hundred kit very powerful for me. It's like what doesn't put out a lot of light? Well, no, it doesn't at one hundred, but four hundred puts out a lot of light, or even eight hundred puts out a huge amount of light. Why not use those higher? Isos? I have people still say, oh, no, I'm not going to go about four. Well, then you're just being silly because I'll guarantee I know wedding photographers right now that have turned off their strobes and they're shooting ambient light on lee and they're going to a wedding shooting. I have so sixty four hundred all day long and you can do it well, but it's gonna get noisy, a little one click and that fixes really used those bump those s o so there's there's. Not a magic formula, but there used to be a need for one. But not anymore. I think I think you can. I think you can get away with a lot less output power then we ever could before and and and that's great savings for us to financially it's. Less stressful, it's less trouble, less weight. Everything gets better.

Class Description

Lighting equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it is crucial you get your money’s worth. Learn how to make the most of your investments in Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.

Tony is a celebrated photographer, educator, and author. In this class, he’ll help you get more out of basic studio gear. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to use off-camera speedlights
  • The basics of studio lights including; mono lights and pack lights 
  • Combining studio lighting with natural light
  • The properties of light 
  • How to position lights for varied results and styles
You’ll learn practical ways to work with strobes and light shaping tools and get tips on creating the exact look you’re aiming for. Tony will also help you overcome any hesitations you have about purchasing and setting up your own lighting equipment.

If you want to get more looks out of your existing gear or want to know which gear you should invest in, don’t miss Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Essential Home Studio Gear Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Catherine Stevens

Excellent class. Tony does a great job of highlighting different ways to work with light without being prescriptive. He's also a great speaker - very clear and easy to listen to. I would love it if this class came with a gear list and some basic guidance on the different lights as a starting point - I think the class does assume a certain amount of pre-existing lighting knowledge. Still worth every cent though!


I love watching Tony Corbell. He is such a wealth of knowledge. He is one of the Great Masters. Tony is an excellent teacher and he both freely and honestly shares his immense experience. It is truly a delight listen and watch to Tony teach.