Skip to main content

Studio Lighting - The Power of Control

Lesson 2 of 30

Mono Lights & Pack Lights

Tony Corbell

Studio Lighting - The Power of Control

Tony Corbell

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

2. Mono Lights & Pack Lights


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Mono Lights & Pack Lights Duration:29:32
3 Light Controls & Shaping Duration:30:36
6 Tools of Light Q & A Duration:13:59
8 Shoot: Painting with Light Duration:26:01

Lesson Info

Mono Lights & Pack Lights

This is the bolan's five hundred german I that I that I use another there's an interesting thing about studio lights. And that is that there's basically two different types of lights, or pretty much two kinds of lights that are available. One is a mano light, and one is a generator light or power pack light, and they're both sort of designed to do two different things that they're both designed to do the same thing, but they do it in a different way. Um, the generator, like you, have a central power pack where all your heads are really lightweight heads, and they all plug into that central power pack the power packed in plugs into the wall, and it distributes the power to however many heads you have played into it, and you can do that symmetrically or asymmetrically so they even distributes them evenly or heavily waits one strobe or death it's. A really good way to go when you need a lot of power. It's a really good way to go when you're doing stuff where, you know you need your lights...

up pretty high because the heads are very, very lightweight when you do a generator type like, however, what you trade off of what you give up is sometimes the finite control of amman alike. Now mano lights and what's what's interesting is now that I'm using bones that's what's interesting about these bolan's actually invented the mono lights uh forty years ago there like one of the top life in the world and they started this whole thing they're the first ones that put all the capacitors and all the sort of the guts that we need inside the casing inside the head. So so although you know all the powers in there and as you change power output right you're adjusting how much of that flashes going pop? How big is that charge going to be? Well here you can do it with one tenth of the soft accuracy and for me that's critical because if I'm gonna send I've got four lights and I've got a head of mainline I've got a hairline I've got a background lot I've got an accent like I got, you know, whatever I might look at a system that they need that light down two tenths of a stop I need that one up one fortunes have stopped. Whatever it is, I want to be able to quickly move just like that and be able to power those up and down the challenge is there really heavy and that's a challenge that and that's that's a real concern for some people, especially small people that just don't have the strength to have around and and if you've got a lightweight stands you don't want you don't want to put something like this that's pretty heavy on a really lightweight stand and put a big soft bucks on it and put it up real high for a family because this thing is just going to sit like this and it's going to scare you to death all day long and you can put wait bags on the bottom of stand it's still going to scare you because it's still gonna be weaving and it's kind of a challenge and I can't reach it to change and adjust my power but we're on a generator I could just reach down and power that upper down so there's given taken and as with anything that we do in our photography world, every single thing we do is a trade off we lose something for every decision that we make there's something we can't do and you guys know that from shutter speeds and apertures you know oh I gotta freeze the runner I'm gonna goto for thousands of second grade what happens at a four thousandth of a second you lose the sharpness of the guy behind the runner so what do you want? You know we have to make decisions we have to make those choices for me working with these kind of lights working with the model lights and makes him up a lot of sense and just so we're clear for those that are new to this a little bit let's talk a little bit about what's what's in here and what's going on each of these lights have two different basically two different lights in each head so you've got a modeling lamp which which is there for no reason other than to show you approximately what you're going to get when this thing fires and to focus by so you can so you can get a good focus and it's usually to fifty courts kind of a kind of a light tricky part about that is you can touch a mile in light with your bare fingers you don't I don't care what brand like to use you don't ever touch a modeling light with your bare fingers because the oil on your skin at some point those that surface gets so hot at some point it's just going to explode it's just going to pop and when it does it's loud it'll scare you and your client will go running out of night I mean they're out they're gone uh since glass everywhere and it's just not a good thing so don't touch the model lights with things the flash tube is a little different the flash tube then this in this particular head the flash to was this round bring looking thing and basically what's going on there there's a non gas inside that inside that glass tube and it's in there in a vacuum and there is a wire that that's in there that's wound through and it's basically the wires and they're basically just tow generate the charge so that when you hit the test but like that that closes the circuit and it sends out the signal and it fires that gas and a little small tiny little explosion takes place that's controlled but it's a little small explosion right goes out so based on where you are on your settings on your output that kind of determines how much of an explosion you get that makes sense and uh and all the capacitors throw that isn't in the head on the montel lights on the generator lights the pack light sits down there that's why that power pack so heavy because it's got to have all the guts for up to one two, three, four heads here this is has all the guts for one hit still very heavy though you've got control for how you how much output there is for the flash tube and you also have control over how bright that morning light is you can have it fulbright you can have it turned off you can also have it turned on to a proportional setting so it's exactly relative to its it matches the relative brightness of the apple it so as I turn it down a little bit, it'll get dimmer and dimmer, so you can sort of onset if you've got all you've got four lights on set, and you've got him all set to proportional, you can look at what your ratios are from highlight to shadow and background, the hairline and all of that so you can see those ratios, ok, any questions about that doesn't make sense. You guys don't know this. This is yes, this is a quick question from the internet on interwebs from the interwebs, and this is from one of our regulars, a really great person fashion tv from singapore and and you may be covering this later, so just jump out if you're going tio tony, how do we decide how much power we need in our lights? For example, the five hundred watt two thousand twelve hundred fifteen hundred so on and so forth any practical tips for yeah, it's a really great question for me. The decision is what kind of photography am I going to do? Mostly what apertures will be using mostly and for me the five hundred is a lower value of those outputs, but it's enough to get me with a large soft box at four, feet away from brett's face I can still get after eleven f sixteen out of it and I'm mostly going to be shooting a five, six or eight anyway so I'm I'm great with the five hundred if I'm doing more commercial work and I really need to shoot at sixteen twenty two, then I need the power higher power and also it'll have also be dependent on you know, when you do when you step into the world of color gels and I do a lot of color gels and we're gonna spend some time on that those gels the lighter colors don't stop much light, but the primary colors the primary blues, reds, greens the deep you know, you know the roscoe you know, number eighty or eighty one blue, which is a primary screaming rich blue that stops three stops of light if I don't have a powerful enough strove to get through that if I needed if I needed that to go through and light a background and I need to have sixteen on the background with a dark blue jail, I'm gonna have to have a lot of life to go through there so much so that I don't even know if I want to be in the room and that's fires off, you know? But so yes, I mean, you know, it's all relative to what the style is that you're going to shoot and a little bit about how you how you're going to be working with your backgrounds, jails that sort of thing it all it all kind of relates together great thinking and what are these lights here there? Five hundred? They're the lowest values that that I used? Uh, I'm probably going to go toe thousands on lee because there's a new feature that they just came out with, which I think is very clever on the one thousand settings on the one thousand lights where it's got a glass, you, the coded glass protective dome that covers over the flash tube and the violin like both so they're so they're sort of in case together inside this uv coded protective bulb, I like that idea in case something were to go off our blow no glass is going to hit my client great, it'll be trapped inside the dome, so yeah, but but there, but there are, you know, all the manufacturers, all the lights are pretty comparable, you know, there's always three or four top brands and there's always through four on the bottom that have a lower price what's interesting about this if I don't, you don't mind me just say go into this just a little bit. What I find really interesting about photography is one of the few crafts out there that the price of the tools they're actually valued at about what their prices so as you spend a little bit more money for your lighting, you're going to get a little bit better lights if you spend a little bit last money, what you're going to get a little bit less like, the less quality, like the lower value lights, the starter kit lights in the you know, the lower price stuff works fine there's no question, it works fine, it might not hold up to travel if you're going to travel a lot with your gear, you've got to get the higher and stuff that's a little bit more durable, just for travel, so there's an awful lot of decisions like that that they have to factor into it. One quick question from faizal con on this is a question that I'll be honest, I don't want a hundred percent understand, but I understand enough to know that I think it's a good question, so says how does the guide number of a flash compare with watts on a mano block? Great kind of explain what that means. Great question, great question they don't have anything do with each other, but but they are separate measure months of output, so for years and years and years, we had the guy number for our speed line out output, for example, so let's say, for example, I had a ah nold senior graph lex strove head that was a portable old potato masher for weddings in the old days and it had a guy number of one ten what that guy number one ten means that to figure out what and it's a manually it's emanuel only there's no t d l there's no automatic because it's got a guy number of one ten you take the guide number and always divided by ten and that'll give you the exposure at ten feet that's the rule with a guy number so whatever the guy number is a mean by his light divide by ten and that's the exposure tempe so you got a one one sixty one sixty five guy number at ten feet you shouldn't have sixteen bam no testing, no looking it'll all be there. You can't do that transition with what seconds with strokes I don't know how much light is going out, but I don't know what the exposures of that life depends on the manufacturer because they all rate their output differently the swiss brown color and some and ellen crony well, even ellen chrome and some of the others they based there what seconds at the capacitor and some base there? What second at the head itself? It's a little bit different so you can't there's not a relative way to measure our tow compare one up against the other with what seconds the best way to shop for a strobe that's in what segments for studio is to walk into a camera store with a meter in your hand and and sten ten feet away and take a reading at full power and see if you're getting what you think you need and then go to the next head and turn it on and take another meeting meter reading of that one and you'll find that comparable brands at the same power will have different readings and that's why you've got a shop you got you got to know that craft a little bit even when you go shopping so but but don't misunderstand I think there's some there's some lesser priced products that are solid as a rock you know there are there's some really good ones out there I love what I like about these guys is these guys have been out longer than anybody borns brand they're out there and this band at mount this ban in mount fits so many accessories that are already in the market all kinds of after market products and stuff and it's just a three pronged ban at mount that's so simple you just put it on there and turn it a quarter of an inch bam it clicks and is there so it's they're great they're really great to have beautiful love it thank you yeah hope that answered his question I believe it is or her questions good numbers are wonderful. I love god numbers but way don't spend too much time on him anymore, but it is a good thing to know you do need to know good numbers. There was also a funny old old way that people used to teach high numbers, which is you could teach it with a measuring tape. You could take this thing over here this one before you could take a stanley twenty foot measuring tape and just roll it out and put it on the ground. And if you start looking at the numbers, you're apertures and your exposures would follow that distance on your take mission. So if I've got my ten feet mark, think about think about going from let's see, I've got eleven feet, and then if I move my life, if I if I have the distance and move my light and half the distance, my next double, that number of nasa and f twenty two so twenty two feet gives me f twenty two so you can you can put the apertures right on the ground and you can figure out your exposure basically from where you place your life so you could do it all with a stanley measuring tape so there's all kinds of areas on online, you can read about that and print out the chart on everything and see it is pretty clever. There's a lot of good information, you know that's one of great things about our our new world of technology in this communication and being here today talking to somebody and you know, singapore oh our lima is pretty remarkable if you think about it there are seven of you that are local here and I'm talking about how many hundreds of thousands of people were alive and I love this the way this works I'm trying not to think about all them cause I'll just freak out so I'm just I'm just thinking about you guys over here today so uh, anything else we get we're going okay? So so the controls here again you can set on the back of the controls you know in this one my power often on switch but go up it gives me the a c power but if I plug into a battery pack then I go down so that activates the d c power um and then the controls you can set the cell so it's a white light slave built in or that you can turn that off so it has to have some kind of a triggering device plugged in you khun set the beeper often on so that when it re cycles you know you know how that recycle goes in many of you have been around long enough to ever have worked with a vivid tar to eighty three a visitor too eighty five here's what happens you have to wait for that beat to come all the way back up before you can fire again that recycle time well these have a beep that will let you know when they're recycled or you can turn the beep off and it'll give you a visual cue the morning light will go dark and then when the morning light comes back up bright again you're fully charged and you can shoot again so if you're shooting faction in your shooting high speed stuff you need either a lot of power turned way down low our life to just recycle really really really fast so because you're missing your ms pictures but these rate is a really, really great and let's talk about just for a second while we're on this topic let's talk a little about the triggering devices here um you know when you when you step into the studio you you're in a very controlled situate for me I really wish I was a photojournalist I'm not I'm not good at it I've tried to be good at it and and I've been hired for some pj work but I'm a guy that sort of wants to be in control I don't know why but I do love being in control I love working in the studio and I love that situation where I've got I'm in charge of what takes place here instead of I'm you know, dean collins used to say, you know, you can either be a photographer who records what's taking place or a photographer that creates what is not even there and that's kind of what I do, I kind of create what is not even there, and I've done that most of my career. So what I've learned is that when you're in the controlled studio, several good things happen and some things that aren't so good you might get it'll stiffen, you might get a little bored, and as bob said, you don't want to see it the same thing every day there was that there was a term that I heard back in the eighties that the guy said, you know, if you if you if I if I do the same thing I did today, if I do the same thing today that I did yesterday and I sold a picture yesterday, I can sell a picture today, but after a while, you'll slash a risk. You just you'll be so bored with your work, you know, you really well, and you sort of get into a rut. And, uh, I remember when dean collins one time he was a very well known photographer that time came to my studio in west texas. In the eighties and we were leaving I have finished the session in the client just left and he was there and taking me to dinner and were walking out of the studio and I'm locking the door he goes, you're gonna leave your lights set up and I'm like, well yeah, why and he said none of my business I was like what? And he said you're gonna leave them that way and I went, yeah, ok it's up to you I was like, what? And he said, well and then he said the most profound thing he says well, if you leave your lights set up like that tonight, chances are tomorrow's first session's gonna look like today's last session on he was right and so what I learned that day was at the end of the day you've got to move your lights and get him off the floor, move him against the wall, move him to another well, do something with him but get him out of the way so you don't do the same thing tomorrow just because it works is not enough of a reason to do it again if it works and that's what you wanted to do yes, but if you want try something different will then set him up different tomorrow and you can force yourself to do that if you put him away makes it was one of the best tips that I ever heard. I mean, it's, it's, it helped me a lot, just that one little statement, so pretty, pretty important. So now we're back in the control of situation here and with mano lights in these control situations, we've gotta be able to find some way for them to all fire. They've all got to talk to each other. They've all got to talk to my camera. It's almost like when my limbs is open. I need them to all be really bright. And when the land's closes, they can go off again. So that's, what happened? So we gotta put them all together. We got to sink him all up and there's three different ways to do that. I can do one. I can turn him on. I can turn on the slave so that when one life fires that fires all the other lights, they see each other. And it's called a white light slave it's a pretty good way to work, but it but it is tricky sometimes, and you will be in situations where one lights not fine, because it can't see one of the life that is fine. And it's, just the frustration. When that happens, you can also plug a state court, a regular cord into the back of your head. Here is input for the sinking, and the ones that they use is a quarter inch it's, almost an audio looking cable it's, a plug in with a quarter inch sync post. Basically, it plugs in, and it works great, and but but it's a wire and then it's going to come along the floor, and then you bring it up into your camera plugs in your camera, and if you're photographing children, check your liability policy because the kid's going to trip on that wire and pull a light stand over our poll, your camera, over or break a nose and years so anything that you can do to become wireless's is a help. I think in the studios, basically because you're in there in a room with a lot of gear and it's dark most of the time. So for me, I chose to use the pocket wizards that which I just think a brilliant and the new ones that around right now, the current version well, the pocket was a plus threes, and you know, they are. What I like about him is that their receivers and transmitters both, and so you can turn it on and said it, tio rx and t x and so either way you just turn it on and if it needs to receive and then it'll receive if he needs to send little symptom it's great, you can set the channel and then the the there's a there's a adapter for this that goes into your meter that has the same chip so that when you when your wireless and you're in the studio by yourself, you can take your light meter and you can walk overto light number one and you can just walk over and take a hold your meter without plugging in anything and hit the button and it'll fire your lights so you can get a good reading and that's a death that's a accessory that goes into your meter that matches on and you just max the channel in what challenge on channel seven okay, bam it's down seven bam channel seven so now everything fires on channel seven. Speaking of wireless, can you remotely adjust your power ratios? Let's say you have one of your monaural eyes stuck up in the rafters. You don't climb up there over two minutes you can with every brand is different, every light is different with several brands you can with these you can, but you have to use their triggering devices, which is called pulse are and I'm a bigger fan of these then I am the pulse our system with the pole star system there's a small antenna that plugs in right here on this side they plug in and then you can control with the with the transmitter you can control that and I can adjust that power uh it's a little bit uh it's not clooney but it's just not real smooth for me personally, so I would rather not use it. I would rather use these and just manually adjust everything. I'm just a little more comfortable doing it that way, but I have found that since I since I started doing this and using these and using the meter with the with the sensor built in boy is it made life easy because I don't have any records anywhere I have no power, you have power cords going to need to my head's this has to get power, so being a c blood going here, but but I don't have anything else. Everything else is wireless and I didn't want to revisit that one thought for a second on the difference. Another difference between the model lights in the power pack with the power pack I've got one a c chord that goes into the wall with the mono lights every head has to have its own power, so that means I've gotta have paris trips and extension cords it's not always that simple you know you got to carry you know I've got one large backpack and then there's probably eight or ten extension cords and four five power strips I've just got to be ableto get power to wherever I needed every time where with the generator might not have to sew the bigger power can be gained through those generators also, if you need if you're a commercial guy shooting eight by ten view camera at f thirty two and you need you know you know that kind of power output then you can get four thousand or eight thousand what second packs I just need five hundred watt seconds tell me you know I'm photographing people I just need to freeze people from moving do you find on these are packs that when you're using a low amount of what a jury or full blast the color temperature state until the concert s so that's so that's an interesting uh discussion thanks for bringing it up um the higher end your equipment, the more consistent your color temperature will be from full power to low power the lower and your equipment, the less consistent the color output will be from full power to look too low power and part of that has to do with the capacitors and part of it has to do with flash duration and so it's a term that we nobody talks about anymore but flash duration can I move this head out of the way and I'm gonna move over this board and draw something out real quick and tony while you're doing that yeah I just want to let the people out there on the interwebs know that we were just talking about the pocket wizards and pocket wizard is actually running a rebate for the holidays of twenty five dollars and if you go to our chat rooms seal andrea will post that link for you so it's twenty five bucks off which is a great deal definitely wear no this is not my amateur are around here this is so so think about think about this and let me explain how this works principle makes sense a lot people have never even given us any thought all the major colors in the color uh spectrum have different color wavelengths right so red being the longest blue being the shortest okay so if I've got rgb which is what we're capturing nowadays right so I'm gonna argue be value let's just say we got our let's say this is our timeline oh there's our timeline right there from zero tio you know one two, three whatever in milliseconds going across okay so then when our strobe fires off those three colors all get this the stroke fires right the gas goes in there the little wire triggers and there's this little miniature x pollution fam and it goes off so what happens is this explosion goes bam and then it starts falling down okay so what you're after is that the exposure is made while all of your colors are peaking does this make sense? This is yes ok so so here's the way this works as long as my exposure takes place right up in this region I'm good I'm gonna get my true color at any output as long as it's capturing it at the peak at one thousand watts seconds or all the way down it seventy five what seconds and after does whatever the challenge here is when the manufacturers of any flash equipment change their capacity to change their power output by changing flash duration instead of the capacitors. So instead of one four thousandth of a second on a speed light if they changed that to one eight thousandth of a second with flash duration it is clipped off to four thousand four thousandth of a second that won't affect anything really except the blue layer and then it's going to be a little bit warm makes sense so why in the world on your camera do you have a color balance setting for daylight and flash they're supposed to match? The reason is because the manufactures all figured out that flashes a little bit cooler because that nobody knows why well that's why it's? Because it has to do with class duration okay, so the statement their bread is brit brit it's t under that so my statement there is that the more money you spend for your lights honestly, the more this will never be an issue for you. So make sense when you see an issue it doesn't mean don't get the lower in lights, get the lower in lights start out but do a custom white balance every time you change your power output it's the only way you'll be able to keep your color temperatures consistent has a long way to answer your question this is something that nobody talks about, you know, I just wanna make sure we visit that a little bit, okay, now we're going to some of these engineers from these lining comey's calling won the tony this is not exactly the case, so you know, we'll see what kind of car calls and letters we get over this one, but I may be off a little bit on some of this, but I do recognize that this is in a nutshell, sort of how it works. I just we just need to make sure that the exposure has taken place across that timeline when everything is peaking that's what that's when the exposure needs to be taken and it isn't always the case sometimes it's a little before or a little after and therein lies the issue with color shift, so boy, it took a long time they're buying homes. One we don't care, get on with the lifetime of the pretty girls. No, actually, journey. That was a question from one of our regulars. The new dubai had that same exact question about color temperature, so, yeah, so they're right on parliament from work from a new dubai he's from dubai, anoop. Oh, great, tell him I was there. It was great.

Class Description

Get ready to learn how the lighting secrets every sought-after photographer needs to know. Join creativeLIVE for an in-depth immersion into understanding and controlling in-studio light.

Taught by award-winning photographer Tony Corbell, you’ll explore how to work with a wide variety of lighting tools. Tony will explain how a photograph’s look and feel are influenced by the size, shape, and placement of its light source. You’ll learn about correct light metering techniques and the role logic and physics play in metering and working with light. Tony will cover basic, subtle lighting adjustments that transform photos. You’ll have a front-row seat as Tony applies his one-of-a-kind lighting techniques live in-studio as he shoots both portraits and still-life photos.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a new and improved skill set for working with light and achieving jaw-dropping results.


AJ Photography Ireland

Watching this Course from Ireland live, and at my leisure having purchased the course, I cannot praise Tony Corbell enough. I felt I was right there in the Classroom with him and gained so, so much from stunning course. He really does explain the techniques he uses so well and is one of the greatest Educators that I have seen in photography. Worth every Euro ( Dollar ) !.. Thank you Creative Live and Keep up the good work ! Andy Jay Cork Ireland.


I learned a lot from Tony´s class. Very experienced, talented, smart tips and funny comments. Generous on sharing his knowledge. I am passionate about learning portraiture since about a year or two, had bought a couple of flashlights, stands, modifiers and now the most difficult part, to have my wife and kids be patient and let me practice with them. John Cornicello did an excellent job helping with the lights and bringing his own comments too. They both did an excellent match. This is a class I will watch again from time to time. This is the second course I watch from Tony and about the 15th course I watched from Creative.

a Creativelive Student

This is just a tremendous class. I love Mr. Corbell's teaching style and appreciate his levity. Most of all, I value the expertise he brings to the subject matter. After watching the entire class, I have been able to make adjustments to my lighting that I love and feel like I have a better idea of what I am looking for with my lights. This is a terrific value at any price.