I here a lot of people saying that if I only had this and that then I could take some great pictures. When I take out the big lights people often come up with comments like that. I don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase “If I had a light like that then I could do whatever”.
So I decided to do a little post on lightning with a simple setup. This goes to show that you don’t need have big lights or a fortune in equipment to get a decent shot.
I will post five shots and a diagram of the lightning on each one. All the shots are done with just one light and are location shots. The light used is a Canon Speedlite 580ex II. To soften the light a bit I used a cheapo umbrella, not the big expensive one. Just a small white cheap old thing with a diameter just below one meter.
I will not claim that these are the über best shots ever, bot I really don’t see them as bad shots and I hope you agree. My hope with this post is that people will try to dream a little less about the equipment they don’t have and use the equipment they do have a lot more.
Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions.
Again the point is get out there and shot 🙂
Thanks for this amazing setup. I found your website via DPS as I thought that their set up was way too complex.
You use a Speedlite 580ex II which seems to be one of the best flash guns out there for the Canon. Being a novice and someone who has never used one, I was wondering if you have any advice or recommendations for purchasing and using a flash gun?
The 580ex II is the top Canon flash and the most powerful. I use it because I think its the best for the system and it packs a good bunch of power.
So if you can find the money for it I would definitely go with it. If you are low on cash you might wan’t to look at the 430ex. I don’t have
any experience with it myself but I hear its pretty good for the money.
I stick with the original Canon equipment so can’t give much advice on any third party flashes.
Hope that answered your question if not feel free to drop another post 🙂
God tutorial du har lavet her – mere af den slags, tak 🙂
I also linked here from DPS. I have very little experiance with off camera lighting, but with these diagrams, I’m going to start working with it more.
Glad I could help and again should you have any questions feel free to drop by.
Fantastic job mapping out your lighting setups, there is so much to learn about lighting placement and control. Thanks!
Excellent information and very, very helpful! The diagrams are especially useful/helpful and the pictures are great! Thanks for taking the time to document and illustrate “one-light” setups! Just FYI: I also linked here from the DPS site.
Nice shots and thanks for sharing the info.
I have just purchased a 580EX2 speedlite and still getting used to it. What power source and zoom settings (if any) have you used?
I am shooting outdoors tomorrow but don’t have an umbrella to soften light just a Stofen diffuser. Do I need to position my light a little further back than yours and go say 1/64th power?
It’s not really a sience and the distance and power depends on the effect you wan’t and what light is there from mother nature.
I don’t remember the power settings for these shots. It was somewhere between 1/16 and 1/1 as far as I remember. The power setting was not the same for all shot.
Have a nice time playing with you flash 🙂
thanks for the lesson
how did you flash ure 580 ex II off camera ? Did you get that S22 thing, or a pocket wizard ? They are both expensive options..so far the cheapest option Ive been able to find is a sync chord…and thats very inconvienient….
Hey, I used the a Elinchrom Skyport trigger. Yes it cost some money but its reliable and just works and I can use the trigger with my studio lights also.
Some people have had luck with cheap radio triggers from ebay but it’s not something I have any experience with.
This is great information, and soooo helpful for me! I think they came out beautiful!
On your recommendation I got the 580exII and have never looked back. Fantastic bit of kit. Thanks so much for the heads up
Just noticed you mention Elinchrom Skyport triggers, I had better start saving! Do you know if you have to buy the complete set or just one part if the 580exII has a built in transmitter?
Hey, I am glad your are happy with your new 580exII.
The Canon 580exII does not have build in skyport support. Skyport’s is made by Elinchrom and you
will need a receiver so connect to the 580exII.
Since I wrote the post a new player is on the field and you might want to have a look at the new Pocket wizzards.
They come with e-ttl support and a host of other new features. The price is a bit steep but they do look nice.
Thanks for the info! I was a mostly natural light photographer but I am finding that having speed light skills are great to have. My question is about your diagrams. Do you remember how high up the lights were? Was it straight on, slightly above, or below? Thanks again.
Hey, the lights where all slightly above the models eye level.
I am also an amateur photographer. It looks like these are strobe lights you are using. I have a continuous lighting source as well as a SB-600 flash for my Nikon. Can I get similar results with contiuous lighting? Thanks for the diagrams, very helpful.
I forgot to ask how high did you place the lights?
oops! Please disregard my last post.
I have never worked much with continuous lightning apart from what is already there. But I am pretty sure you should be able to get similar results.
It will of course depend on how powerful your light is since it might need to compete a bit with the ambient.
The results you see here you should be able to do with no problems if you use your SB-600 flash.
Just remember you need something to defuse the light.
Thanks a lot!! Recently purchased the Rebel XTI (from the S5IS point n shoot). Been using the 270EX as a flash…remarks???
Also…as far as lenses…I have the 18-55mm and the 70-300…what lens should I invest in next?
Thanks again…you have no idea how helpful this is!!
I have no remarks on the 270ex flash since I have no experience with it.
What lens you need to but I really can’t tell you. You need to find out what you are missing. If you don’t feel that the lens setup you have now is lagging anything then stick with it and save the money. Someday you will be taking pictures and wishing your lens could do this or that, then it is time to go shopping 🙂
I am a sports/ news photographer who has been taking shots of the crowd and friends as well as of the players on the floor for several years with my Canon 30D. I get lots of comments that I am good and especially at composition. Due to many requests I am setting up a litle studio without any knowledge about working with lights. It is challenging me. Thanks so much for this post. I am just starting to work with the lights my husband set up and I can’t figure out why the pictures are coming out red. I thought it was bouncing from the nearby walls, but bounced of the ceilng in a home with a baby and he was red. I have changed every setting including to tungsten, AWB and did a custom white balance with not much change. I got umbrellas but don’t really know how to use them. My husband refused to spend a mint on lights until we see if (in this economy) it will work to set up a studio. He found an article on how to set up a studio cheaply. We are very rural but I feel like the country bumpkin photographer with heat lamps from the farm store clipped on tripods. Yikes! Maybe it is a reflection of the red in my face? *smile* I see a rainbow of colors on the inside of the lamps too. Are my “lights” the problem? :o(
is this normal 580Ex II flash, picture looks different on the flash. what about the umbrella? which brand and model?
is there any book for learning photography for startes?
Articles are good and valuable.
This is a normal 580exII. If you are referring to the diagrams its not a 580exii in them because there weren’t any 🙂
But all shots are done with the 580ex II.
The umbrella is not really any brand I think just some REALLY cheap thing I had laying around.
I can’t really recommend any books on photography for starters unless you can read Danish and I am guessing you cant 🙂
Hope that answers your questions, if not feel free to write again 🙂
thanks for your quick reply!
another quick question, are you used 70-200 lens to capture this beautiful pics??
The two first shots are with the Canon EF 85L F1.2 and the last three shots are done with the Canon EF 70-200L F2.8 IS.
Waow enjoyed reading your blogpost. I added your rss to my blogreader.
Great article. Found you from the DPS article. I am JUST getting into off camera flash, and I bought a 6′ Stand and a 43″ Satin White Umbrella with removable reflector.
Just wondering why you shoot THROUGH the umbrella instead of reflecting off of it? Is either method better?
there is not really a right or wrong when using the umbrella. I used it as a shoot through here because it scatters the light alot and makes it very soft.
So it really comes down to the effect you want from your light.
Thanks for the info. I have my umbrella’s and stands coming today and have my speedlights in waiting – can;t wait to try them out. Your blog was very helpful to me!!
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Awesome article, I’m regular visitor of this blog, keep on writing these great posts, and I’ll be a regular visitor for a very long time.
Hi…I know that since this post is a year old you likely will not read this but wanted to say thanks, this is great stuff. Been looking for easy to understand strobist type setups for single light photography for quite some time now…this post of yorus is a god send.
Would you have tips or suggestions of using single light set ups for an indoor shoot or night shoot?
You can use alot of the principles above with indoor light also. What I would do is of course shoot in manual mode. Get the exposure you want for the background and then introduce the flash.
That way you have control and can see what the light does.
If you have a very dark surroundings you can drag the shutter… use a long shutter time. That will let light get to your background. If you have your flash set to last curtin sync it will go of at the end of your exposure and freeze your subject and make them sharp. Background might be abit motion blurred but often its not a problem.
Thank you for your sharing, i’m not photographer but i’d like to begining some studio photo with my cheap équipments… (D5000+SB700+umbrella).
SOrry for my english (i’m french…)