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Quick, Easy, (and cheap) High Key Fashion Lighting for Fun & Profit

April 27th, 2012  |  Published in Featured, Shoot

This post is a little different from my normal wedding posts, but this is the time of year I’m not shooting very many weddings.  It’s the off season, those golden months of leisure, where I get to sit around and never touch a camera…right?  Well that works, for a couple of weeks, but then I get bored, and want to take some pictures.  So every year about this time, I challenge myself to try something new.  This year I wanted to try classic pinup photos.  But as a personal project, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  So in this post, I’m going to show you how I was able to create classic high key fashion lighting for less than $100.

Alright, so in order to spend less than $100, you have to make sure you have three small flashes, and a way to trigger them from your camera.  Plus light-stands and at least one umbrella bracket for your light stand.  I already had all of the above, so my $100 was spent on a 60″ parabolic shoot through umbrella (for my key light), and a 9 foot roll of white seamless paper.   For my flashes, I used Canon’s new 600ex-RT’s triggered by a Canon ST-E3-RT Wireless Transmitter, but could have used any three small flashes.

Setup is super easy, I set up two of the three flashes (Flash A & Flash B) approximately 3 feet from the backdrop, aimed at the backdrop to light the white paper.  My goal was to blow it completely out.  I placed the third flash (Flash C) on the umbrella bracket aimed into the umbrella.  My goal with this flash was to light the model.  The parabolic umbrella, gave a wonderful, soft, wrap around light.  I lowered the wide angle diffusers on all three flashes to maximize the spread of light.

And that’s it!  I adjusted my flash output to balance output and recycle time.  With my newer Canon bodies, I have no problem using ISO3200.  That meant I could keep my flash power very low and still achieve an aperture of f8, giving me plenty of depth of field.  And with the flash power that low, my recycle time was very good.  Shooting at moderate speed, I didn’t have to wait for the flashes to recycle.

Straight out of camera the images look great.  And with a little love in photoshop I can make them look even better.

So there you have it – using flashes you already own, a $30 umbrella, and a roll of white paper, it’s easy to create high key fashion lighting for fun and profit.

Here’s the umbrella: http://www.adorama.com/LTU60T.html

About Jamison Wexler

Jamison Wexler has written 15 post in this blog.

Jamie is a Boston Wedding Photographer who believes every client is a rockstar.


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