I purchased my studio lighting kit few years ago when I was a student attending a photography course. I wanted a studio lighting kit just for portraiture photography and to experiment with lighting. What I really like in studio photography is the controlled environment.
You probably already have researched the market and you know what to expect from a studio lighting kit. Here is what was included in the lighting kit which I’ve purchased:
- Three sync photography strobes
- Three stands
- Two soft boxes
- Two umbrellas
- A wireless remote trigger kit
- A honeycomb light filter
- Three backdrops (black, white and grey)
Let’s take look into the most important parts of a studio lighting kit:
Photography Strobes: There are two basic design types of strobe systems – with power pack built into the strobe unit (monolight) and with power pack separated from the head. My strobes allow me to adjust the power into one tenth of a stop. They give me enough power (400 w/s) but I rarely use half of it. It has audio beep, so I know when they are ready to fire again. Also, the recycling time is pretty good (less than a second). Of course I can turn the modeling light on and off whenever I want.
By the way, you don’t always need three strobes in a studio. You can achieve very good results with just one strobe and a white card or reflector for fill light. However, with three lights we have much more freedom and we can achieve much better results. The first light is called the “key light”. It is the main source of light. We usually place it just in front of the subject. In that configuration we have dark shadows on one side of the face. So we fill the shadows with the second strobe (“fill light”). Similar we get rid of the shadows on the wall behind the subject with “background light”. This configuration is also known as “three-point lighting”. We can also add a fourth light behind the subject to bring more details in the hair. This is so called “hair light”.
See Portrait Studio Lighting for the most common portraiture lighting techniques.
Reflectors: Every strobe head can accept different kind of accessories. Mostly used are reflectors. A 7 inch reflector is known as standard (universal) reflector and we mostly use it with an umbrella. We can also attach all other different kind of accessories like grid spot (honeycomb) light modifiers.
Umbrellas: Umbrellas are the mostly used light modifier. They are attached to the reflector and the light unit. The light is bounced into it and then backed to the subject. They come in different colors – white is the most common type but there are also silver and gold umbrellas. Some umbrellas can be used as shoot-through umbrella which further defuses the light.
Softbox:Similar to umbrellas softboxes are used to defuse the light. They come in different sizes. A 3×4 ft softbox is considered as large softbox.
Light stands: Usually light stands extend from about 30 to 90 inches. Some floor stands however, allow attaching an adapter to them and you can have strobe light very low to the ground. What you would expect from a light stand is to be sturdy. You may want to invest in a light stands with air cushion. This will prevent you from incidents and eventually damage expensive strobes.