As I write this blog post my mind is wondering how many times I have sat thinking about what every other aspiring photographer does when they see others in the profession with the latest piece of photographic wonderment. Commonly this misplaced envy is referred to as G.A.S, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is where you convince yourself that if you have the latest camera, strobe, modifier, software or fad gadget it will make you a better photographer. Lusting after material things is, I have come to the conclusion; a natural quirk of Mother nature and something we just have to deal with.
IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MAKING GREAT IMAGES
Now I am lucky enough to belong to a group of photographer friends that get together every month or so and photograph two or three willing victims on a Wednesday evening, in return the said subjects get free images. This is a great exercise as it is a bit like speed dating, in that you only have a couple of minutes with the aspiring models to gain a rapport, direct them, illicit a response and capture the moment, before the next photographer tries to do the same thing.
Inevitably the lighting is set up in a generic fashion to accomplish a high key and a low key lighting scenario, adjusting the lighting is pretty much restricted to turning lights on and off as there is no time of much else. Despite these restrictions we manage to get some very pleasing images along with the numerous disasters along the way.
So last night I thought I would try something different, What if, I thought, would happen if i restricted myself to cheapest and simplest lighting set up I could. So where the other photographers were relying on expensive studio strobes, professional modifiers, soft boxes and grids etc, I would make do with one light stand, a 60" umbrella, a Nikon SB800 flash unit set on manual mode and a trigger/reciever to fire it.
Anyway the images you see here are the result of that exercise. Save for cropping and a little contrast adjustment these are not re-touched. The camera was in manual mode set to the maximum flash sync speed ( 1/250/sec), ISO 100,The aperture was F4, the flash was set to manual and bounced into the reflective umbrella at about half power which was kept the same distance from the subject but moved around for effect. To add drama I occasionally collapsed the umbrella half way so it acts, as the great Zach Arias says like a "poor mans soft box".
So I suppose the Moral of this story is you can do a lot with very little, there are no bad cameras any more and anything you have that can fire a flash would do the same job. The umbrella cost £30.00, Any flash that can be remotely fired would do the same job as well.
So don't worry what gear the next guy or lady has got and rock what you have. I have three simple studio lights etc but this was so refreshingly simple and satisfying that I think I will be making a lot more use of this simple rig. As I said:
'A little goes a long way!'
Have a great day!