Best type of light for portaiture?

Started Apr 18, 2013 | Questions thread
Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: Best type of light for portraiture?

Daniel Lauring wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

I have seen many photographers start doing portraiture with hot-shoe flash units and give up because they can't get good results because they can't see and understand the lighting like they would if they had used studio strobes with modeling lights.

I've seen just as many give up because they are told they need $5000 dollars worth of equipment to "do it right."  The "investment" in speedlights and triggers is low, and isn't wasted if one upgrades to monolights because they are still useful when traveling.  Alternatively, I've seen guys buy entire three light studios and not have a clue what to do, sending light every which way and giving up as well.

I do agree that monolights, with variable power modeling lights that change with the same ratio as the main lights is nice.  It is nice to have 1 second refresh.  It is nice have gobs of light "power" to waste through different modifiers.

Where I disagree is beginners need to start there.

Working with speedlights isn't so tough.

"Isn't so tough" doesn't qualify as being best.

All persons will learn the business of light placement quicker with modelling lamps to assist, than without. To suggest otherwise is to be perverse.

With modelling lights the photographer is able to monitor the effect of the lighting AS the model moves in response to direction.. This part of the art is completely impossible without modelling lights.

As far as I'm concerned that last point overides any other, and by some large degree.

You can find single light and speedlight workshops almost everywhere.  One learns how light works very quickly, in my experience.

I like the concept of starting with one light and adding a reflector...then moving to two.  If one goes slowly one really starts to understand light and modeling lights, while nice, are totally unnecessary.  In fact, a comment about annoying the model with setup time and chimping, made in this thread or possibly another, is also true with modeling lights.  It is much nicer to not have to sit under the constant blaze of modeling lights.

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