seattle portrait photography

Lighting demos with Better Together Seattle

Last night I had the honor and pleasure to be invited to the Better Together Seattle photography group's Flash Night at Bandia Rua Studios. This is a great group of pro and aspiring pro photographers getting together to help each other out. They talk business, technique, and other issues.

For Flash Night they initially asked me to come and show my "event photography" setup, but that isn't my main area of photography, so I also brought some studio lights for folks to try out.

I'll start by talking about the event rig, though. Very basic. It consists of a Black Rapid Double strap with my camera on one side and my flash on the other. The flash has a large Rogue Flash Bender with diffuser. The flash is connected to the camera with an off-shoe flash cord. That allows me to hold the camera in one hand and the flash in the other and move the flash around to where I want it. The Double Strap lets me carry both at my side when not photographing and is more comfortable/balanced that having a regular single strap.

But now for the fun. Those that know me well know I do not like camera flashes. Too fidgety, battery issues, small buttons, too many options and things to go wrong. So give me  a studio setup, please! This matches my philosophy about a number of things. I don't like to go out hunting for photographs. I like having a stationary set up where people come to me. That way I don't miss anything chasing down other things.

So, I brought a small studio strobe, a Westcott Apollo Orb, a fold up reflector, and a couple of light stands (I still like to travel light when I can). I used one of the studio's backdrops and I set it all up to take a few headshots and to let others give it  a try. The following image shows three of those photos along with two images created on another set from the fine folks at Bandia Rua  (more about that after the photo).


Bandia Rua Studio is a new studio in Seattle that is available for rental. They have a great space with lighting and grip equipment and props available additionally. The two images of the woman holding the wine glass were created using the studio's equipment, in this case a large backdrop, a Prophoto strobe, and a large softbox.

Below are some images taken at the event by other photographers.

Alice Gines was kind enough to take a photo of the Orb set up and allowed me to include it here in this blog post.

Alice Gines was kind enough to take a photo of the Orb set up and allowed me to include it here in this blog post.

Brent Smith got this photo of me working in the headshot setup. Thanks, Brent!

Brent Smith got this photo of me working in the headshot setup. Thanks, Brent!

Farzad Khosrownia took this photo of the setup.

Farzad Khosrownia took this photo of the setup.

One main light...

This past weekend I did a "marathon" photo session with eight models, one main light, a backdrop, and sometimes an accent light.


The one light was a Speedotron 202 head powered by a Speedo 805 pack placed in a Westcott Apollo Orb with a grid on it. The fill was a 4x6 foot white reflector. The backgrounds were Westcott's new X-drop background system. The dark one is called Eminence and the lighter one is called Saffron. In the bottom two images on Saffron I added another light on the background which was a speedlight aimed through a gobo which consisted of a piece of corrugated cardboard with three slits cut in it to break up the light from the flash. You can see the subtle effect of "light rays" on the background in those two images. The camera was the Canon 5D MkIII with the 24-105mm F/4L lens.

I really appreciated the quick setup of the X-drop frame and being able to quickly change out the fabric backdrops. For this session I had the two backdrops and simply hooked one onto the frame over the other instead of removing and replacing. This helped go back and forth quickly as different models came onto the set.

My only small issue with the X-drop is that it has to be set up a few feet in front of the wall to make room for the frame. This can be a little limiting in a small room. For this session I lucked out that there was a closet behind the backdrop so I was able to put the rear leg of the frame into the closet and push everything back to give is a little more room. For situations like that, though, the fabrics do have a rod pocket, so could be hung on a standard background support. But that does add weight to a traveling kit.

In case you were wondering, yes, the red dress in the upper right is made of balloons and was put together by Jami Krause.

Here's looking towards the holiday season and more fun themed photo sessions.

Thanks for watching!
John Cornicello