Creating Studio Lighting At Home
One huge misconception in achieving studio quality photography is that you MUST HAVE big, expensive lighting equipment, a large studio space solely for photography purposes, and camera gear that costs more than your life. The following photos were all taken with small and portable lights (Yongnuo IV speedlight) and modifier (Large Rogue Flashbender). It’s a pretty inexpensive setup, but the secret is in the technique and settings. I learned this technique from Caryn Esplin and it’s become one of my favorite portrait shooting techniques I’ve learned to this day. She calls this technique, SQIBB, or studio quality invisible black background. With the right camera settings, one speedlight and flashbender, you can capture some pretty great studio photography shots right in your living room.
For this studio quality photo series I had three pieces of equipment that I needed in order to achieve the studio photography that I’ve come to love. The first is a Yongnuo 560-IV speedlite. They are very affordable and work as well as high quality speedlites made by other brands such as Nikon and Canon. The next piece of equipment I used go hand in hand: a trigger. The triger mounts on the hotshoe of the camera and triggers the flash to go off when the shutter is released. The last piece of equipment I used was a Large Rogue Flashbender. This attachment goes on the end of a flash and acts as a portable light modifier to achieve soft studio lighting as opposed to a speedlite unmodified by light attachment.
For the camera settings, I started with a shutter speed of 1/200, an aperture around f 10, and an ISO of 100. With a faster shutter speed (within the speedlite sync range) and small aperture, my image would be darker, achieving the moodier pictures and feeling I was going for.
In this portrait of Analee I wanted to create contrast between the highlights of her skin and the darkness of the background. I also kept in mind lighting patterns that would be flattering and fit the feeling I was wanting to capture. Here’s the final image. A moody, studio portrait with rembrandt lighting.
Music is such a huge part of my life, so I decided I wanted to shoot a subject that related to music. I found this upright piano and got to shooting. For this shot I set up my camera on my tripod and decided to get a “self-portrait” of my hand. It took a couple tries to get the light directed at the right spot, but finally got the shot. In post I did minimal edits. I increased the highlights, darkened the shadows, and sharpened the entire image.
And for my last photo I decided to capture the piano. I used the same settings in camera as the last two photos and took this into post-processing. In post I also increased the highlights, increased clarity and sharpening on the wood, and darkened the shadows to add additional vignetting to the photo. I hope you enjoy!