Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

Small Flash, Big Box: Using the LumoPro Flash Bracket

There’s no shortage of lighting modifiers for small flashes like the Nikon SB–910 on the market today. From the Apollo softboxes we rent, to grid kits, snoots, umbrellas, and beauty dishes, small flash has really come into its own, especially for photographers working on location. Now there’s a new accessory for Strobist-style shooters that will let you use a much wider variety of softboxes with your existing small flashes, including the high-end modifiers from companies like Profoto. I used it with two Profoto softboxes a couple of weeks ago for a portrait, with excellent results. The acecssory is called the Lumopro Speedring Bracket, and it’s basically a softbox speedring modified to let you use one or two flashes in a standard softbox. If you’re not familiar with speedrings and softboxes, take a look at the article “Understanding Softboxes” on our blog. It describes what speedrings are, and how they are used with various modifiers. The Lumopro bracket is essentially a speedring with two adjustable arms protruding from it. A standard stud allows you to to mount the speedring onto a swivel adapter so you can tilt your setup to angle it. I was doing a shoot for costume designer Katherine Nowacki, who needed a bright, airy headshot for her website. I placed her on a balcony with setting sun directly behind her to act as a rim light. My initial idea was to use a reflector to get some fill light into her face, but then decided I wanted something more powerful to balance out the ambient. I went with two Profoto softboxes, a 3’ Octabox and a 1×4’...
Blowing out the Background

Blowing out the Background

The image above was not shot on a white background. It has a minimal level of adjustment in Lightroom to it, mostly to clean up the edges, but that’s about it. It was taken in front of the greyish-blue wall in the lobby of the BorrowLenses.com offices in San Carlos. The thing about a relatively light-colored background is that it lends itself to a surprisingly large number of options for photographers. Though grey backgrounds work best for this, you can with some tweaking, turn just about any light-colored background — grey, blue, beige — completely black, as I demonstrated in this article on how to kill your background completely. In this article, I’ll show you how to blow out that background completely to make it look like you’re shooting in front of a white backdrop. The setup for this portrait was exceedingly simple. I placed one Nikon SB-910 in a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe and one bare-bulb, with the included diffuser attached. The SB-910 in the Lastolite softbox was placed on camera-left, while the bare-bulb SB-910 was placed directly behind Ben, and slightly below the level of his shoulders. It was pointed up at an angle at the wall behind Ben, as shown below. I set the flashes to manual, making sure that the flash hitting the wall was about 2 stops brighter than the flash on Ben’s face. The diffusion in the softbox cut the power of the light on Ben by another 1/3 stop or so, I estimate. That was it. It took a bit of tweaking the power on the lights and the aperture for exposure and...
Lighting and Photographing White Seamless Background Headshots

Lighting and Photographing White Seamless Background Headshots

I photographed the staff headshots for both BorrowLenses.com and Zenfolio.com using just a white wall as my background. Lighting basic higher-key headshots is an essential skill for most photographers. Here is a step-by-step guide for how I lighted the scene to create that seamless “white room” effect. Lighting Gear I Use For a large space, I use the following items: Elinchrom BX-RI Kit x 2 Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep Octabox Elinchrom Octa Light Bank – 74″ Sekonic 358 Lightmeter The Elinchrom BX-RI Kit comes with two small umbrella softboxes which are perfect for using on your background strobes because their black backing prevents unwanted light from spilling onto your model. For a small space, I use the following items: Flashes, any brand that allows off-camera shooting, x 4 Black-backed umbrellas x 2 Small-to-medium sized beauty dish or softbox, such as the Photoflex OctoDome nxt Extra Small Kit. 3′ or larger softbox or octabox, such as the Westcott 28″ Apollo Kit. These can be varied for budged and taste. Just remember the essentials: 1 large light modifier as your key source. The larger the source, the softer the results–especially with a diffuser. 1 smaller light modifier as your fill. A reflector may also be used but may not produce as even and soft results. 2-4 umbrellas or softboxes for your wall or white paper backdrop. Placement of the Lighting Gear I place my key above my subject by several feet, pointed downward at them and facing them at a right or left-leaning angle. I place my fill on the opposite side at a similar angle and below the subject by...
Kill the Background: How to Turn a Background Black with Speedlights

Kill the Background: How to Turn a Background Black with Speedlights

I was recently inspired by a recent series of portraits by our very own Alex Huff. Titled “Chiaroscuro Portraiture,” it features these gorgeous close-up portraits of the men and women in her life, each one of which is a study in how to render the interplay between light and shadow. Alex takes these images in front of a grey background, and through a combination of getting in close to her subjects and using one light, sends what little you might see of that grey to almost pitch black. I began to think of what I could do if I didn’t have a backdrop to shoot against, if I needed to make a portrait in a relatively brightly-lit area. In theory, it could be done; a basic understanding of the Inverse-Square Law reveals that much. But what if all you had was a basic modifier and a couple of speedlights, not a big studio strobe? Could you still do it? I had to give it a try. I picked the area above to try this out in. That’s the lobby of the BorrowLenses.com West Coast headquarters in San Carlos, CA. As you can tell, it’s a pretty bright area, with large glass windows letting in a lot of ambient light, grey walls with photos mounted, a television and a glass case in the corner. Not exactly an “uncluttered” background, but it made for a great area for a test case. I roped in a couple of guys from our front-desk team, who’ve been long-suffering models for my various experiments, to be my portrait subjects. I started with taking a test exposure....
The Softbox Cheat Sheet

The Softbox Cheat Sheet

A while back, we put together an article on how to use softboxes with your light of choice. At that time, I mentioned that we’d be putting together a cheat sheet that would allow you to figure out which softbox could go with which light, and what you’d need to make it work. Well, that cheat sheet is here. In the the matrix below, you’ll see the lights we rent down the vertical axis and the softboxes we rent across the horizontal. There’s a legend at the bottom of the table that will indicate if you need something additional to make the combo work. You can click on the image below to enlarge it (warning – it’s a big image), or download the PDF version here. The PDF version has embedded links to direct you to the gear mentioned.   We hope this helps with the constant conundrum of what softbox goes with which light! As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below....