I am looking for some Lightning gear in order to start shooting Fashion Photography on Location. Need something portable and I am not sure if flash would be ideal. I have been thinking about Ring Flash. i just need something very portable so I don't get stuck in one location.

The following shots are very close to my aesthetic appeal and I would appreciate some help in order to achieve that.






  • Some of your examples look like natural light to me. Photographers use natural light, continuous lights, big flash units, small flash (strobist). All of them work great. Depends on your style. I'd suggest you read up on different equipment, then rent or borrow some gear. If you have specific questions, ask. But really impossible to know what will work for you – MikeW Jan 2 '14 at 18:39

None of the example shots involve anything approaching "big production" lighting.¹ As far as I can determine, the largest modifier used in any of the shots would be something in the 70-80cm range — certainly no more than 100cm — and not particularly soft for its size either. A large beauty dish, small softbox or a small octa — even a small "hot" umbrella — will get you there.

The first set uses a small source from behind, about 45 degrees left and about head-height for a rim. That could be a standard reflector on a studio flash; it could be a bare speedlight (either zoomed all the way out or using a Sto-fen to get the spread). The main light is front left and low, almost on the ground. It's softish (as described above) but not nearly big enough or soft enough to make the shadows indistinct. The angle of wrap-around is small enough that about half of the torso's width is in full shadow on the wall. When you consider that the right side of the shadow begins when the left edge of the light is blocked, and the deepest shadow occurs when the entire light is blocked, either the light isn't particularly large or it is a (relatively) long way away.

The second set looks like it's using window light. Whether that's actual window light or a simulation thereof is another question altogether. It falls of rather quickly though, and you can simulate this light (if necessary) with a moderately sized softbox or umbrella. Or a bedsheet (or, if you need to spend money, something like a butterly silk, grid cloth or diffusion panel) over the window and a speedlight or flash head outside if there is a window but the sun and sky aren't cooperating.

The third looks like a beauty dish or a large fresnel high and right to me (and, again, the part of a beauty dish may be played by a small softbox or a small hot umbrella in your version), or perhaps a small skylight or high dormer window. The fourth could be stark sunlight above and behind the photographer's head, or a gridded reflector (no bigger than a beauty dish) coming from the same angle (which would be in keeping with the vignette — but then the vignette might have been added in post).

So there's nothing here you can't do with moderately-priced equipment (speedlights or entry-level studio flash, perhaps with battery power for location shooting if a generator isn't practical). Or with $20K worth of Broncolor equipment either, for that matter. But large modifiers and multi-kilowatt lights to feed them are not what you need. Go smaller, and be more careful with the placement of your lights.

¹ That's not to say that high-end equipment wasn't used; just that truckloads of unwieldy gear aren't necessary to get these shots.

  • Glad to see you back and active on the site again! Welcome back and great answer! – dpollitt Jan 3 '14 at 4:18
  • @dpollitt - Not going to last, I'm afraid. The "duplicates" mostly aren't, and questions about photography rather than gear are getting closed. I'm not a good fit for this site and vice versa. – user2719 Jan 3 '14 at 5:18

Portability and those shots don't go well together. They are using a single strong key light in front that is coming from a large area (using a soft box most likely) to generate soft but dark shadows on the backdrop. They are also using a hard backlight that is strongly off to the side and almost functioning as more of a side fill. Look at the feet in the first example and you can clearly see the light sources being used.

The problem is that getting such a diffused light is not going to be possible with highly portable gear since the size of the softbox itself will have to be rather large.

  • I had something like that in mind: youtube.com/watch?v=X4DsiYw9omM – polyglot Jan 2 '14 at 17:54
  • @polyglot - will it look amateurish? No, not if you use them properly, but it won't look much like the samples you gave. That said, I'd say that with the color "corrected" the way it is in those images, those images themselves look amateurish, but that's an entirely different point. – AJ Henderson Jan 2 '14 at 17:58
  • Will I get substantially better results using a ring flash such as this one? walimex.biz/walimex-Ring-Flash-RD-600 – polyglot Jan 2 '14 at 18:14
  • @polyglot - a ring flash is decent if you need to be able to take photos without any light setup. It's still coming from the direction of the camera, so it limits options somewhat compared to off-camera speedlites, but off camera speedlites require placement and aiming and balancing to get just right, so they are less able to be used on the fly. It really depends what you want to accomplish. – AJ Henderson Jan 2 '14 at 19:00
  • I was just wondering if I could go a little bit more creative and buy a few Club Strobes along with some neon light sticks.. Effectively, I just need to create the right ambient mood and get intense light. – polyglot Jan 2 '14 at 20:41

I would recommend PCB Einstein's with Vagabond mini power supplies, and 86" PLM's in extreme silver with a white front diffusers. If your shooting for a long bit, you may need extra batteries for the mini, but that combination will get you the light in these images at a very reasonable cost. I wouldn't recommend the ring flash unless you like that style of catchlight. These images were shot with soft boxes so the PLM's will do a great job for far less money and are very portable.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.